(18) San Diego State (9-1) vs. San Francisco (5-4)
Saturday, December 22, 6 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: SDSU 6-0, USF 4-1. Away Record: SDSU 2-0, USF 1-2. Neutral Record: SDSU 1-1, USF 0-1. Conference Record: SDSU 0-0, USF 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams from the Golden State make their way to Honolulu on Saturday, as the 18th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs tangle with the San Francisco Dons in the opening round of the 2012 Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Since losing to ninth-ranked Syracuse in the season opener, 62-49, the Aztecs have been unstoppable with nine straight victories. The team was tossed a softball on the schedule for Tuesday as it hosted Point Loma Nazarene and delivered a 76-49 victory at Viejas Arena.
Not only did the victory keep SDSU's current seasonal win streak intact, it was also the 29th straight triumph for the team against another program from the state of California, by far the longest such run by any school at the Division I level.
As for the Dons, a squad which has won just once in four games away from home this season, they've gone from winning five games straight to suffering through a three-game slide at the moment. Earlier this week, the team hosted Holy Cross and was defeated by double figures, 73-63, which means USF is now just one game over .500 on the season.
In terms of the all-time series between these two schools, each has won twice previously. While the relationship dates back to 1954, the latest encounter took place two seasons ago when SDSU posted a 62-56 win in the first game of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.
These two teams will be back in action again on Sunday, switching opponents with Ole Miss and Indiana State, with the matchups hinging on the outcomes on Saturday.
Even without the services of Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin, who was held out of the contest in order for him to rest an ailing back, the Aztecs had little trouble dismissing their visitors by 27 points. Instead of relying on Franklin, SDSU instead turned to Xavier Thames who tallied 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor, followed by Chase Tapley with 15 points as he connected on 3-of-5 shots behind the 3-point line. San Diego State ended up shooting a solid 54.9 percent from the floor while also forcing PLNU into 17 turnovers. Expected to be back in action for this tournament, Franklin leads the team in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 18.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest, although he would probably benefit from staying in the paint at the offensive end of the floor instead of drifting out to the perimeter where he has made just 26.8 percent of his shot attempts. Defensively, the group has held the competition to 37.7 percent from the floor and watched them make a mere 57.7 percent at the charity stripe.
San Francisco couldn't find the basket from nearly anywhere on the floor against the Crusaders earlier this week, the hosts hitting on just 37.7 percent from the field, 5-of-20 beyond the arc and a disappointing 12-of-23 (.522) at the charity stripe. Cole Dickerson did everything he could to keep the Dons competitive as he registered a huge double-double with 17 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, but it wasn't nearly enough. Cody Doolin was responsible for 18 points and five assists, followed by De'End Parker with 10 points, but the latter made only 4-of-12 shots from the floor. After a run of four games in which the Dons shot at least 50 percent from the floor, the team has had three consecutive outings in which they've now failed to reach 43 percent and the last two contests have dropped below 38 percent accuracy. Still, USF is hitting its shots a respectable 44.1 percent of the time, even as Parker (15.4 ppg), Dickerson (13.6 ppg) and Doolin (11.7 ppg) all fall below that mark individually.
Already the Aztecs have outscored the opposition by 87 points at the free- throw line, and as long as they again play physical and force the action, the team will continue to operate on the winner's side of the tournament bracket this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego State 74, San Francisco 61
12/22 10:39:54 ET