The battle for the top seed in the Mountain West tournament as well as a shot at a number one seed for the NCAA tournament is going down Saturday when No. 7 BYU Cougars take on No. 4 San Diego St. Aztecs. Not only is this a rematch of when Jimmer Fredette was recognized from Nelly and Kevin Durant after his huge performance where Fredette dropped 43 as the Cougars defeated the Aztecs, but this game will be on over-the-air CBS (plus online for as well) which makes it even bigger.
I believe that this is the first Mountain West game to be shown nationally on non-cable television outside of the NCAA Tournament. The last game I remember was a game on ABC -- which was a regional game only -- where BYU played Air Force with a 10 a.m. local tip the year before Comcast came aboard.
This is a NCAA tournament atmosphere game and with it being on CBS everyone will get to see BYU's Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery; as well as, San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard and D.J. Gay among others. This time Leonard should not be feeling ill as he was prior to the game in Provo
What will be interesting in Saturday's game is what San Diego State do to keep pace with BYU. Last game the Aztecs were playing point-for-point with BYU until they hit a cold stretch late in the second half which cost them the game. The Aztecs know Fredette will get his, but they can not allow Fredette to get above 30 points. They need to make sure to not allow Fredette to be able to drive to the hoop, because when he does he either makes it or gets fouled and goes to the line.
The Aztecs could try the Loyola (MD) tactic which is to double team the most prolific scorer on the court. Loyola tried that tactic when they played Davidson's Steph Curry, and they doubled Curry the entire game and held him scoreless. However, the end result was a 30-point loss. That is not going to happen, but perhaps San Diego State could have immediate help if Fredette attempts to drive. A triangle-and-two defense or a box-and-one defense could neutralize Fredette, but he most likely would shoot over that defense if given the chance and the Aztecs do not play that type of defense.
The Aztecs will need to use their size advantage with Leonard and Bill White to take advantage of BYU's one weakness. If the Aztecs can dominate the boards and possible get BYU's big men in foul trouble then the Aztecs could have a much easier time beating BYU.
The Aztec home court advantage is huge and the student section is known as 'The Show' and are very creative and to some offensive. Here are a few things they did in last years game:
The cited offenses: 1) dressing up like Mormon missionaries (black slacks, white shirts, ties and bicycle helmets); 2) a sign directed at the ailing Fredette ("Which wife gave you mono?"); and 3) chants toward the BYU bench at the end of the game ("You're still Mormon!"). The chants actually came from other fans at the game -- not those in The Show -- but The Show was hit by the collateral damage.
Prior to the game security will check all shirts and signs and weed out the one's that seem inappropriate. 'The Show' makes the atmosphere for Aztec home games. Head coach Steve Fisher went as far to pen an open letter to let the student section to let them know that they are what makes their home court advantage so valuable, but he also said to keep the signs tasteful and clean:
Dear Aztec Faithful -
We know the energy and enthusiasm brought by The Show is what makes Viejas Arena one of the toughest home courts in the country. It is important to remember that when you are in the student section, you represent something greater than yourself. You represent San Diego State, and we need your help to make sure the representation of our university is a positive one. Our upcoming game against top ten opponent BYU will be televised nationally by CBS, and will be one of the biggest games in the respective histories of both programs. We always encourage The Show to continue to be the most creative, funny, and loudest student section in America, but we cannot cross the line into topics that are out of bounds and distasteful, particularly making fun of one's religion. Please discourage any chants or signs that cross this line. We will not permit signs that are derogatory or disrespectful of our opponent. Let's win this game, but in a respectful fashion befitting your university. GO AZTECS!
Head Basketball Coach
This game should be epic and will definitely have a tournament fell, and the winner of this game will have an good shot of earning an number one seed come NCAA Tournament time.
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