Tomorrow night the San Diego State Aztecs (14-4, 4-1 Mountain West) begin their toughest road stretch of the season against the struggling Air Force Falcons (8-9, 1-5 MW). Four days later, SDSU will play the senior-driven Colorado State Rams (17-2, 4-2 MW) in Fort Collins.
The Falcons' lone conference win came Jan. 7 against the suspension-ridden San Jose State Spartans (2-13, 0-3 MW) in a 78-56 romping. Air Force also gave the Aztecs a run for their money on New Year's Eve and almost erased a 20-point halftime deficit against the Rams 10 days later.
Other than that, though, coach Dave Pilipovich's squad has lived up to its second-to-last preseason ranking, losing by 18 at Nevada and by 12 at Utah State.
But there's legitimate reason for Air Force's struggles. Senior forward Kamryn Williams went down for the season when he tore his Achille's tendon at SDSU. Williams led the team in rebounds and assists and was the second-leading scorer behind Max Yon.
Yon is special, there's no doubt about that. The guy is scoring over 15 a game on over 50-percent shooting.
But even Batman needs his Robin, and without Williams there to bolster Yon, the Falcons pose much less of a threat to the Aztecs than they did on New Year's Eve.
There's a big wild card in play; this game will be played in Colorado Springs, and for some reason the Aztecs seem to be allergic to the air up there. SDSU has lost two of the last three games it's played in the Falcons' house.
With all that said, though, SDSU should take this one. SDSU will present the second-most efficient defense in the county, according to Ken Pomeroy, and the Aztecs are playing the best they have all season, coming off big wins at Wyoming and against UNLV.
"The continuity, the way we're talking to each other, the way we hug each other, the way we slap each other and give each other high-fives, it's just a whole different aura and feeling in the locker room right now," Aqeel Quinn said after beating UNLV 53-47. "If you come in the locker room, you can feel it yourself. We're definitely coming together right now."