Laramie, WY (Sports Network) - The 15th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs have made the trek to Arena-Auditorium for Saturday's Mountain West Conference clash with the Wyoming Cowboys.
San Diego State opened the season with a loss to Syracuse, but then proceeded to win 11 straight games before suffering its second defeat against Arizona. Three more wins would follow, but the team recently dealt with loss number three in an 82-75 setback at home to UNLV on Wednesday night. The Aztecs bring a perfect 3-0 mark in true road games into this affair, as they take on a Wyoming club that has surprised quite a few folks by going 9-1 at home and 14-2 overall.
The Cowboys sprinted out to a 13-0 start, but the beginning of MWC play has brought the team back to reality a bit as losses to Boise State and Fresno State are sandwiched around their lone league win at Nevada last Saturday. Wednesday's 49-36 setback at Fresno marked the team's worst offensive showing of the year, but also one of its best defensive efforts.
Wyoming owns a narrow 37-34 edge in the all-time series with San Diego State, but the Aztecs have won eight of the last 10 meetings. The Pokes are a stellar 24-8 versus SDSU in Laramie over the years.
San Diego State has been solid at both ends of the court this season, averaging 72.3 ppg while allowing 60.4 ppg. The Aztecs are shooting 44.5 percent from the field, including 34.7 percent from 3-point land, while foes are hitting just 38.7 percent of their total shots, with a mere 31.1 percent of their long-range launches finding the bottom of the net. SDSU has just two double-digit scorers in Jamaal Franklin (18.4 ppg, 10.1 ppg) and Chase Tapley (15.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg), but five others average between 5.2 and 9.8 ppg. Franklin has been a man possessed this season, and he is coming off a 27-point, seven- rebound performance in the recent loss to UNLV. Winston Shepard tallied 18 points, five boards and five assists in 24 minutes of action off the bench, and Tapley tacked on 16 points for the Aztecs, who converted just 38.8 percent of their field goal attempts, missing 16 of 19 3-point tries along the way. SDSU committed only five turnovers in the game, but they allowed the Runnin' Rebels to knock down 51.6 percent of their total shots, and secure a 43-31 rebounding advantage.
Luke Martinez, the Cowboys' leading scorer, is suspended indefinitely for his alleged involvement in a bar room brawl in late December. Martinez was averaging 14.5 ppg, and shooting 42.2 percent from 3-point range prior to the suspension, leaving Leonard Washington (14.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.0 bpg), Derrious Gilmore (11.0 ppg, 2.6 apg) and Larry Nance, Jr. (10.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) as the lone double-digit scorers for a team that puts up 65.4 ppg on the strength of typical shooting outputs of .450 overall, .341 from 3-point range, and .719 from the foul line. Defensively, the Pokes are allowing a mere 54.4 ppg, which ranks the team first in the Mountain West and sixth nationally. Foes are shooting just 39.6 percent from the floor, and the club forces an average of 15.2 turnovers per outing. Nance, Jr. nearly had a double-double in the offensively-inept performance against Fresno State, logging 10 points and nine rebounds, but as a collective unit Wyoming shot a horrific 24.0 percent from the floor, and missed the mark on a staggering 22 of its 27 3-point attempts on the night. Riley Grabau also scored 10 points in defeat, and Washington grabbed 10 boards. The Cowboys were equally terrible from the charity stripe (7-of-20), while the Bulldogs enjoyed 51.5 percent success from the floor, despite going 0-of-6 beyond the arc.