Aztecs set sights on Sea Lions

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The 18th-ranked team in the land goes up against yet another program from the Golden State, as the San Diego State Aztecs confront the Sea Lions of Point Loma Nazarene in non-conference action on Tuesday night at Viejas Arena.

Since dropping the season opener to Syracuse on the deck of the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego, the Aztecs have ripped off eight straight wins, along the way dominating other schools from within the state. On Saturday, the team beat up on cross-town rival San Diego by a score of 72-56, which means SDSU has now won 28 straight games over teams within the state boundaries. The run is easily the longest in the nation, with Kansas placing second with just 10 consecutive triumphs over such opposition.

As for the Sea Lions, members of the Pacific West Conference at the Division II level, they won a couple of games last month but have since been taken down in four consecutive outings. The most recent defeat came at the hands of Dixie State on Saturday, which posted a 68-58 win at home. The loss means PLNU is now just 1-2 in conference, and 1-3 on the road through eight games overall.

The relationship between these two schools dates back nearly 60 years to 1954 when the Sea Lions captured a 90-87 win in Pasadena. The most recent encounter was in 2005 as SDSU secured an 88-77 triumph in order to move ahead in the all-time series at 8-5. The Aztecs have won all but one of the eight games played at home.

The Sea Lions dug themselves a huge hole against Dixie State in Utah over the weekend, shooting not only 25.8 percent from the floor in the first half, but also a feeble 1-of-16 behind the 3-point line. The second half was certainly better in both areas, but the team simply could not mount a sufficient comeback bid. Judd Welfringer managed to come up with a team-high 22 points off the bench for Point Loma, converting 5-of-7 shots beyond the arc, which means the rest of the team combined to make only 4-of-26 out on the perimeter. Arren Wells accounted for 10 points off the bench and Blair Banker cleared 10 rebounds in the loss. Welfringer currently leads the team in scoring with 11.5 ppg, but seeing as how he has appeared in just two games, that means his first appearance of the campaign resulted in just a single point. As a collective unit, the Sea Lions are shooting a mere 34.8 percent from the floor, 26.3 percent behind the 3-point line and a disappointing 56.0 percent at the charity stripe.

Midway through the first half, San Diego was still hanging around against the Aztecs, but eventually SDSU rattled off 10 unanswered points to take control and subsequently claim the 16-point win, the seventh in a row in the series versus the Toreros. Chase Tapley finished with a team-best 15 points, Jamaal Franklin contributed 14 and eight rebounds, followed by DeShawn Stephens with 11 points as he recorded his third double-digit scoring effort in the last four outings. Franklin continues to be the main man for the Aztecs whenever he is on the floor, putting up 18.6 points and pulling down 9.7 rebounds per contest, but Tapley has also been filling in the gaps rather nicely with his 13.8 ppg as a 44.2 percent shooter from three-point range. Xavier Thames (9.7 ppg) has been an afterthought much of the time due to the fact that he has connected on just 31.6 percent of his field goal attempts. Defensively, this group is holding foes to 37.8 percent accuracy from the floor and 30.5 percent out on the perimeter, resulting in just 58.1 ppg.