New Mexico will lead the Mountain West after Saturday's showdown at San Diego State no matter the…
Game Day Breakdown: No. 15 New Mexico at SDSU
Time: 1:00 p.m. PST
Location: Viejas Arena in San Diego, CA
15/17 New Mexico (17-2, 4-0)
Head Coach: Steve Alford
UNM Record: 143-48 / 6th season
Projected Starting Lineup
G – Kendall Williams (Jr.) 6'4, 185
Williams is the most productive player on New Mexico (14. 1 PPG and 4.6 AST) but receives the least amount of credit of the three stars. Aztecs had extremely tough time staying in front of UNLV guard Anthony Marshall especially in the pick and roll, Williams will be a much tougher task.
G – Hugh Greenwood (So.) 6'3, 205
F – Tony Snell (Jr.) 6'7, 200
"That' s my brother from another mother," SDSU forward Jamaal Franklin said of Snell. "He's playing real well. He's playing with confidence. He's shooting the ball real well and I look forward to playing against him again. It should be real cool. He brings a lot of leadership to them now. He brings a lot of scoring. Last year he wasn't looked at as the person who's `the guy,' but this year he's looked at as `the guy' and he has to score for them to win. Instead of last year letting the game come to him, I think he's going after it this year."
F – Chad Adams (Sr.) 6'6, 190
F – Alex Kirk (So.) 7'0, 250
"He didn't play last year because of a back injury," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. "Two years ago, he was viewed more as a `pick and pop' player. A guy who spaced the floor and shot the ball well. Now he's a guy who can punish you inside with is size and skill, and he still has the ability to shoot the ball. So he's a big reason why they're 4-0 in the league. He's good."
The Lobos have a strong unit coming off the bench led by 6-foot-9 big man Cameron Bairstow who is averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest. The junior has the ability to play alongside Kirk which could create a huge problem inside for SDSU. Junior Demetrius Walker and senior Jamal Fentonare experienced backcourt players who produce about 10 points total.
NR/25 San Diego State (15-4, 3-2)
Head Coach: Steve Fisher
SDSU Record: 273-164 / 14th season
Projected Starting Lineup
G – Xavier Thames (Jr.) 6'3, 190
"X is better," Fisher answered in regarding to the health of Thames. "He played for the first time in awhile against Nevada and after the game, the next day he was no worse as a result of having played. So that's encouraging. He's a done a little bit more in practice but not participated in everything live but I would anticipate that he would play and hopefully he'll play a little bit better than he did in the last game. He's working himself back into not worrying about his back and obviously we are a better team when he's healthy."
G – Chase Tapley (Sr.) 6'5, 205
"That's what we needed, a wake-up call on that Wyoming trip," Tapley on what affect the loss to Wyoming had on the team. "We just needed to come in and refocus on what our main goal is, and that was to work hard, listen to people that needed to be listened to, and just go out there and go out there with 110-percent focus and effort. And everything else will take care of itself."
F – Jamaal Franklin (Jr.) 6'5, 205
F – J.J. O'Brien (So.) 6'7, 225
What O'Brien will the Aztecs get on Saturday afternoon: Finishing around the basket like he did against Nevada or missing bunnies during games such as the loss to UNLV.
F – Deshawn Stephens (Sr.) 6'8, 225
Fifth-year guard James Rahon got back on track after earning the start against Nevada with 8 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Backup lead guard Winston Shepard will need his presence felt on the defensive end. He'll eventually get his shot at Williams and/or Snell. Skylar Spencer has been impressive all season. It won't get any easier with Kirk and Baristow down on the low block.
Keys to the Game
1) Move the ball. The Aztecs offense is clicking on all cylinders when the ball never stops moving. One-on-one break your defender off the dribble will not work against this talented New Mexico squad.
2) Win inside. The Lobos have multiple big men beginning with Kirk who will create problems for SDSU. Will Fisher have his team double the post or leave Stephens, Spencer, etc. on an island like he did against Colorado State. Once the Aztecs get a stop secure the board and go!
3) Stay focus and compete. This game is much more important for San Diego State than it is for New Mexico. If the home squad falls they would be three games back in the loss column including upcoming trips to CSU, UNLV and UNM.
What to Watch
"They've got two bigs that they utilize well when they play them together," Fisher said. "They're strong. They know how to manipulate footwork and get you on the high side, and they have a way of getting to the rim. So we'll have our hands full. We'll have to do a good job on how we guard in the low post how we help from the perimeter, and we have to make sure we neutralize their strength."
San Diego State
"At the other end of the floor, they're going to have to guard us with their two bigs," Fisher explained the sort of mismatches they can exploit against the large lineup. "So we have to make it hard on them when they're defending at our end also."
"Big game tomorrow for both teams. Big game for us because we are chasing New Mexico the only undeafted team in the league and we got them at our place. We need to do what I know we'll do. Come out prepared, compete as hard as we can for 40 minutes. It should be a great crowd."
-San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher on the importance of the game
While Jamaal Franklin thinks every game is a must win, AztecReport.com has this as a do-or-die game. The Aztecs are two games back in the loss column to New Mexico and still need to travel to the three toughest arenas in the Mountain West. I expect SDSU to come out like the team that dominated the last 11 minutes in Reno (Nev.). San Diego State will get solid performances from their veteran big three of Franklin, Tapley and Thames plus a rocking Viejas Arena will be too much for red hot Lobos.
San Diego State 68 New Mexico 61
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