USAFA, CO – Having lost back-to-back games for the first time ranked San Diego State Aztecs try to work their way back into the win column this afternoon as they tangle with the Air Force Falcons in Mountain West Conference play at Clune Arena.
Up until late January, the Aztecs were humming along with just a pair of setbacks on the season, but since then the team has bowed in three of the last five and is now tied for second place in the MWC standings with UNLV at 6-3 because of it. On Wednesday night, the team was beaten at home by New Mexico in a 77-67 final, which means SDSU is now chasing the Lobos in the standings heading into the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Falcons had a surprise of their own three nights ago when they finally picked up that first conference win of the season, a 58-53 triumph over Wyoming on the road no less. The victory snapped a seven-game slide by The Academy and was the first for interim head coach Dave Pilipovich who took over for Jeff Reynolds who was dismissed the week prior.
SDSU won the first meeting of the season last month by a score of 57-44 at home, which means the all-time series now numbers 47-20 in favor of the Aztecs.
The Aztecs had plenty of trouble hitting their marks from three-point range on Wednesday night, connecting on just 3-of-14 attempts out on the perimeter, which was enough to keep the team out of the win column once again. Jamaal Franklin tried to keep the group competitive with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but he would have been smart to remain in the paint where he was serving some good, rather than leaking out to beyond the arc where he missed all four of his shot attempts. Tim Shelton and James Rahon chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively, in the setback as well. Jamaal Franklin has at least held a share of the scoring lead for the Aztecs in five of the last six outings and that has pushed him to 17.4 ppg in league play, although his mere 26.7 percent shooting behind the three-point line is nothing to be proud of. Chase Tapley (15.8 ppg) is the one who deserves more attention for his three-point prowess, hitting on 43.5 percent of his attempts on the season, but as a whole San Diego State is connecting on only 33.7 percent on the outside for the year and 30.5 percent in conference.
Michael Lyons erupted for 24 points as the Air Force Falcons captured the five-point road win over Wyoming at Arena Auditorium earlier this week. Lyons finished the night shooting 6-of-8 behind the three-point line for the Falcons. Also scoring in double figures for the visitors was Taylor Broekhuis with 12 points. Air Force, which held the Cowboys to a mere four field goals through the first 17 minutes of the second half, picked up the win even though it failed to record a single offensive rebound for the first time since posting an 80-75 win over Colorado State on the same date back in 2003. Lyons has now scored 24 points in each of the last two games and has led the team in scoring in four of the last five outings, en route to 15.4 ppg which paces the program overall. Mike Fitzgerald checks in with 11.1 ppg and Broekhuis 10.2 ppg in conference play, but still this is a group that is scoring just 55.6 ppg versus the rest of the MWC and a mere 61.9 ppg overall in 2011-12.