(21) San Diego State (23-6) at T-C-U (17-12)
Saturday, March 3, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Daniel-Meyer Coliseum (7,201) -- Fort Worth, Texas. Television: The Mountain, 4SD. Home Record: SDSU 17-2, TCU 13-2. Away Record: SDSU 6-4, TCU 3-8. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-0, TCU 1-2. Conference Record: SDSU 9-4, TCU 7-6. Series Record: San Diego State leads, 12-4.
GAME NOTES: The 21st-ranked San Diego State Aztecs go in search of their second straight Mountain West Conference regular-season title, as they tangle with the TCU Horned Frogs this evening from Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
San Diego State is a stellar 23-6 on the year, and the team's 9-4 league ledger has it currently tied with New Mexico atop the MWC standings. A win here would assure the Aztecs at least a share of the Mountain West regular- season crown, and a win coupled with a Lobo loss to Boise State today would give the team the title outright. SDSU is in the midst of a three-game win streak, and it will try to improve upon its 6-4 record in true road games.
Doing so won't be easy however, as TCU sports an impressive 13-2 home record, and has won all six of its home bouts against conference foes this season, including two over ranked teams in UNLV and New Mexico. The Horned Frogs bring a 17-12 overall record, which includes a 7-6 league mark into this contest, and they are hoping to pull off the upset after dropping their most recent outing, a 71-59 verdict at Wyoming on Tuesday night.
San Diego State owns a 12-4 advantage in the all-time series with TCU, and the Aztecs have won the last seven meetings, the most recent of which being an 83-73 decision at home on Feb. 4.
For the most part, San Diego State has been solid at both ends of the court this season, averaging 70.7 ppg while yielding just 61.9 ppg. The Aztecs hit their field goal attempts 45.5 percent of the time, while holding the opposition to just 39.8 percent. The team owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+4.8) and turnovers (+0.6), and boasts three players who average double figures in the scoring column. Jamaal Franklin (16.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg), Chase Tapley (15.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Xavier Thames (10.3 ppg, 4.5 apg) have all performed well for coach Steve Fisher's club this season, and even a guy like James Rahon (9.0 ppg) can be counted on to produce at times despite his poor 57.5 percent effort at the free-throw line. Franklin was high man once against for SDSU in the recent win over Boise State, as he logged a double- double consisting of 18 points and 12 rebounds, while three others (Tapley, Tim Shelton and Thames) reached double digits in the scoring column as well. As a team, the Aztecs shot an even 50 percent from the floor, but missed nine of their 13 three-point tries, while limiting the Broncos to 40.8 percent field goal efficiency, which included a dismal 2-of-16 showing from downtown.
If you're a TCU fan, there isn't much concern over the team's ability to score points (71.2 ppg), but rather its the effort at the defensive end (69.9 ppg) that seems to be the reason it hasn't won more than it has this season. The Horned Frogs have three double-digit scorers on the roster in Hank Thorns, J.R. Cadot and Amric Fields, but they average between 10.0 and 13.0 ppg, thus not requiring the opposition to really focus on any one of them in particular. There are three others who net between 7.9 and 9.9 ppg however, giving the team the kind of balance head coach Jim Christian needs realizing the lack of star power. Cadot led TCU in scoring for the third straight game in the recent loss to Wyoming, netting 11 points for a squad that shot 41.2 percent from floor, which included a 6-of-22 effort from beyond the arc. Thorns and Kyan Anderson each chipped in 10 points for the Frogs, who suffered the setback in large part due to the Cowboys shooting 53.8 percent from the field and committing just a single turnover.
With so much riding on the outcome, you'd think the Aztecs would be all over this one. Unfortunately for them, winning in Fort Worth isn't going to be easy as the Frogs have some serious pride. Expect the home team to hang in there, and to actually pull out the victory, setting the stage for a very interesting Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: TCU 70, San Diego State 68
03/03 11:41:38 ET