San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - San Diego State, the 13th-ranked team in the nation, tries to continue its domination over California-based programs as it hosts cross-town rival San Diego at Viejas Arena on Thursday night.
Dating back to the 1996-97 campaign, the Aztecs have won 43 straight games against teams from the Golden State and during that run, SDSU has taken down the Toreros five times. Overall, San Diego State owns a 28-17 advantage in the all-time series with USD, taking eight straight meetings and posting a 19-8 mark at home.
Also working against the Toreros is the fact that SDSU has defeated 52 consecutive non-conference, unranked opponents as well.
When it comes to the 2014-15 campaign, the Aztecs began with a five-game win streak before sizing up third-ranked Arizona back on Nov. 26 and unfortunately that meeting was met with a heart-breaking 61-59 defeat during the championship round of the Maui Invitational.
Ironically, the first loss of the 2013-14 season for San Diego State was also against Arizona (69-60), and then the Aztecs had their run in the NCAA Tournament halted by the Wildcats as well, 70-64.
Meanwhile, the Toreros have come out on the losing end of two of their last three contests, but still they are one game over .500 after seven decisions. On Sunday, the team came up short in a 68-66 final versus Western Michigan as part of the Wooden Legacy event in Anaheim, less than a week after topping the Broncos at home.
San Diego was tied with the Broncos in the final moments of their second meeting of the season, but the defense allowed a layup in the last second, preventing the Toreros from completing the sweep. Johnny Dee was one of four players in double figures for USD at the Honda Center, posting 17 points, although he shot just 3-of-11 behind the 3-point line. Jito Kok tallied 15 points, Duda Sanadze added 12 off the bench and Chris Anderson 10 points and six assists, but the team hurt itself with just 6-of-28 shooting beyond the arc.
While Dee struggled out on the perimeter in the most recent outing, he is still shooting 46.2 percent from long range over the course of the first seven games of the season, which is why he continues to lead the program in scoring with 21.1 ppg. Anderson and his 10.3 ppg represent the only other double-digit scorer for the Toreros and combines with Dee to account for all but 13 of the unit's 52 triples. Anderson is also averaging close to nine assists per game, his total of 60 dishes more than six times as many as his closest teammate (Dee).
The Aztecs knew what they were getting into when they suited up against Arizona for the third time in two seasons and unfortunately the team could not squeeze out a victory down the stretch, even though they cut the deficit to just two points. Trey Kell and Winston Shepard both delivered 14 points for the 15th-ranked Aztecs, followed by Dwayne Polee II with 11 points as the team hurt itself with 14 turnovers and a mere 13-of-24 shooting at the free-throw line. A little give in either of those departments and the outcome could have been entirely different.
Shepard is the leading scorer for this defensive-oriented program, putting up a mere 11.8 ppg as he shoots 44.9 percent from the field. Shepard is also second on the glass for the Aztecs with 5.5 rpg, trailing only JJ O'Brien (9.0 ppg) who has 6.5 rpg to go along with a team-best 15 assists. If you are looking for big-time scorers you won't find any this season at SDSU, but you will find another Steve Fisher-led defense that is holding opponents to just 56.5 ppg on 34.9 percent shooting from the field, not to mention a mere 28.3 percent accuracy on the perimeter.