The San Diego State Aztecs (4-2) will travel across the Interstate 8 freeway 9.2 miles to Jenny Craig Pavilion (NOT USD Sports Center) tonight to take on the San Diego Torreros in the San Diego City Championship. The Aztecs have won 3 straight and 6 out of 7 in this match-up but tonight's game looks to be a tough, intense match-up that is important for both teams. The Aztecs feature a big, long talented but young team against the Torreros small, quick, and experienced team that still features players from their NCCA tournament win over UCONN.
While the Aztecs have beaten up on weaker teams this year, they have not fared well against more talented teams. The Torreros on the other hand already have huge wins over AQ conference schools Stanford and No. 25 Oklahoma and made it to the Great Alaska Shootout Final (an event the Aztecs won last season) in a disappointing loss to Washington State. Both teams lost to common opponent Pacific, USD by 1 and SDSU by 8.
For those in San Diego the game is on TV on Channel 4, everyone else can tune in to the live radio broadcast at AM600 KOGO.
Click the break for more.
[Disclaimer: This story might not be as good because my first one got wiped out -Ed.]
The Aztecs have been nothing if not inconsistent. Combined with the loss of 4 senior and a rash of early injuries and illnesses, SDSU has yet to really come together as a team yet this season. The Aztecs are have the height and talent but not the experience. The are able to beat up on the weaker teams but have trouble putting it together against better teams. The Aztecs continue to be road warriors as they play the third out of their last four on the road and will travel back up to NorCal after this game. During their last win, a blowout against Northern Arizona at home, the Aztecs put together season highs in assists and rebounds. Hopefully this means they are starting to mesh as a team and will be better prepared to take on better opponents. After starting only one guard in the previous games, coach Steve Fisher started freshman Chase Tapley at guard along with Junior DJ Gay in that game. Coach Fisher will continue to tinker with the lineup until he gets it right and will probably adjust it for each opponent.
The Aztecs continue to struggle with free throws but Junior Billy White and Freshman Kawhi Leonard (who also is the team's leading rebounder) have stabilized the team on that front. Transfers Malcom Thomas and Tyronne Shelley, who have been leading the team in scoring, will be especially excited for this game. During their time at Pepperdine in the WCC, they were beaten up by the Torreros and look forward to some payback. DJ Gay is improving as a point guard as he had a season high is assists last game. The Aztecs are deep in forwards but do not have very many guards so DJ's play tonight will be key. USD will likely play a lot of zone so the outside shooters are going to have to step up their game.
The Torreros game out of the gate hot but got cooled off a bit by a blowout loss to Washington State in the Great Alaska Shootout Championship game. A team that is really the opposite of the Aztecs, they are a small team deep in guards who are quick and athletic. They are really built like recent SDSU teams which is characteristic of smaller schools. Since SDSU had a huge recruit class and have much bigger talented forwards, this should be an interesting match-up. The Torreros rely heavily on their experience seniors. Seniors Brandon Johnson (15.6 ppg), De'Jon Jackson (12.8 ppg), Chris Lewis (8.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Roberto Mafra (7.7 ppg) do most of their scoring.
Since USD is small, quick, and athletic, they will likely play a zone against SDSU and force them to shoot it from outside. SDSU has a huge height advantage and would dominate in the paint if they played man to man. The Aztecs have struggled shooting field goals so look for the Torreros to come out in zone and see what happens. Coach Bill Grier already has two big wins this season and has a penchant for winning big games against more talented teams so this should be a real barn burner. SDSU has won 4 straight at JCP (including an NIT win over Kansas State last year when the NCAAs were at
Cox Viejas Arena) but this is always a big game that USD looks forward to beating their older brother. Be sure to tune in.