San Diego State hosts Cal State Bakersfield Thursday night at Viejas Arena after Tuesday's nail-biting 53-49 win over No. 25 Utah.
This game might be seen as a warm-up for the highly anticipated matchup with BYU. Of course SDSU head coach Steve Fisher would never say this game's a warm-up.
It's a chance for the Aztecs to find some rhythm on offense, which they so desperately need to find after statistics that shall not be mentioned during the win over Utah.
Here's some storylines heading into Thursday:
KNOW THINE ENEMY: BAKERSFIELD
First off, the Roadrunners are 0-3 to start the year after close losses in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic in Hawai'i.
They also have the task of replacing last year's leading scorer and best all-round player Issiah Grayson, who recorded 17 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
And along with Grayson, five other seniors left, meaning the Runners have the seemingly insurmountable task of replacing 60 percent of last year's total scoring output.
But they've added several new transfers including Kevin Gray, who's averaging a double-double (10.7 pts, 11 rebs) in the first three games.
Aly Ahmed is Bakersfield's leading scorer, averaging 17.3 points per game so far.
But for the Runners, here's a very telling number: 17.7. That's how many turnovers they're averaging. Against SDSU, that's not going to help you, especially since the Aztecs have forced 35 turnovers in two games (17.5 average).
THE WEIRD PART OF SDSU BEING "BETTER"
Plainly stated, the Aztecs' offense was atrocious Tuesday. They shot 32.7 percent from the floor, but that was BETTER (I know) than Utah's 32 percent.
To top it all off, SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said this year's offense is BETTER than last year's, even though fans and coaches alike are still looking for a precise team identity.
It looks like J.J. O'Brien is asserting himself as "the guy." The redshirt senior is averaging 12.5 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 assists in the team's first two games.
O'Brien's sudden productivity isn't exactly unexpected, but it's far better than he was last year. That might be a testament to the fantastic physical condition he's in, according to what Fisher's said at multiple press conferences.
But the new star on the Mesa might be Angelo Chol. The Arizona-transfer has scored eight points in both games, and he's shooting an astounding 80 percent from the floor. Aqeel Quinn said after Utah's game that there's no one who can defend Chol's moves in the low post.
Fisher agreed. Chol is going to be a crucial part to this team. And so is Quinn, who had four steals against the Utes and is averaging 10.5 points in the first two games.
THE WEIRD CASE OF THE 3-POINTER
For whatever reason, Bakersfield's opponents are shooting a lights-out 45.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Roadrunners themselves are shooting 32.3 percent from 3-point range, which is still BETTER (I know) than SDSU's opponents, who've shot 25.8 percent.
The Aztecs aren't that different in therms of 3-point shooting. Their 3-point percentage is 31 percent and they're led by Winston Shepard's 100 percent mark from long-range (okay, he's two for two, but still).
Who would've thought Shepard would be SDSU's biggest threat from deep? No one. Can anyone say "ace in the hole?"
Unlike Wile E. Coyote, the Aztecs will have no problem with the Roadrunners. SDSU has too much depth and talent against a Bakersfield squad looking for an identity this year.