Scouting report: No. 24 San Diego State
Game info: 12 p.m. Sunday at Viejas Arena (12,414 capacity).
TV: CBS Sports Network (Dave Ryan and Doug Gottlieb)
Radio: 950-AM KJR (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
2012-13 record: 23-11 overall, 9-7 (tied fourth in Mountain Big West).
Stats/schedule: Click here.
Coach: Steve Fisher was at the top of the college basketball world in 1991 when he assembled the most talented group of freshmen in NCAA history at Michigan. They called themselves the Fab Five and they advanced to the NCAA tournament championship game in 1991 and ’92. Fisher’s teams made three more NCAA tourney appearance, but he was fired at Michigan following an off-court scandal with a booster. He landed at San Diego State where he built another powerhouse. In 14 years he has a 287-169 record with the Aztecs, including an appearance in the NCAA tournament in the past four years. His overall record is 472-250 in 23 years.
Prediction: The Aztecs were picked to finish fourth in the 11-team Mountain West preseason media poll.
Series: Washington leads 2-0 in a series that began Dec. 27, 2003.
Last meeting: The Huskies won 98-69 on Dec. 7, 2004 when Nate Robinson scored 24 points and Tre Simmons added a career-high 23. They combined to make 13 of their first 17 shots, including eight of 11 3-pointers. Robinson finished 9-for-16 overall and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. Simmons was 9-for-13 for the game and 5-for-7 on 3-pointers.
Previous game: The Aztecs made four free throws in the final 12.2 seconds and No. 24 San Diego State escaped with a 65-64 win against cross-city rival San Diego on Thursday night after the Toreros missed a three-pointer as time expired.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Husky fans may remember Xavier Thames who started his college career at Washington State and played the 2009-10 season with the Cougars. Last week, the 6-3 senior point guard gained national attention when he scored 26 and 29 points in wins over then-No. 20 Marquette and then-No. 25 Creighton respectively. He was voted the Mountain West, CBSSports.com and NBCSports.com player of the week.
Thames has made 10 of his last 14 three-point attempts (.714). He’s also made 27 of 33 free throws in the last four games (.818).
During the three-game Wooden Legacy, he connected on 56.3 percent of his field goals and 11 of 15 from three-point range. He’s 16th nationally in three-point field-goal percentage (.567).
Thames is averaging 17.1 points and just 1.7 assist.
— JJ O’Brien is another Pac-12 transfer who resurrected his career at SDSU. The 6-7 junior forward started at Utah and has spent the past two seasons with the Aztecs. He’s one of two returning starters for SDSU, including Thames. O’Brien is a hybrid who can play all five positions for the Aztecs. He’s averaging 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds, both career-highs.
— Sophomore forward Winston Shepard is a former five-star recruit who struggled last season to find a role with the Aztecs. He averaged 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds as a freshman. This season, he scored at least 10 points in the first five games before tailing off lately. The 6-8 big man is SDSU’s primary low-post option. Against Creighton, he went to the free throw line 12 times – he made 10 – because the Bluejays had no one who could stop him in the paint.
— Fisher loaded up the non-conference schedule anticipating a move to the one-bid Big West. But that didn’t happen and SDSU will have to fight through a tough Mountain West conference without three starters from last season, including Jamaal Franklin who was taken in the second round of the NBA draft.
— Aztecs freshmen Dakarai Allen and D’Erryl Williams were high school teammates last year with UW freshman Darin Johnson.
— SDSU has held its last 16 non-conference opponents to 70 points or less in games played at home. Only one has hit the 70-point plateau (UC Santa Barbara last season). In those 16 games, San Diego State is 15-1. During that span, only two teams have shot above 40 percent from the field.
— Tulane transfer Josh Davis collected a season-high 15 rebounds at USD on Thursday, which equaled the Toreros’ starting lineup’s total for the game. Davis also grabbed five offensive boards, while USD had six as a team. It was the 42nd time he’s had at least 10 rebounds in a game and the 33rd double double of his career. Over his last three games, Davis is averaging 11.3 rebounds. Davis was also named the Mountain West newcomer of the year in a preseason media vote.
— SDSU is 0-1 against the Pac-12 this season, falling 69-60 to then-No.6 Arizona. It was a season low points for the Wildcats.
— San Diego State has won 44 straight non-conference games vs. unranked foes in the regular season. SDSU’s last regular-season loss to an unranked non-conference opponent came on Dec. 19, 2009, at Arizona State.
— SDSU is one of 10 schools nationally to have won at least 23 games and advanced to the NCAA tournament in each of the last four seasons. The others are Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas State, Missouri, Ohio State, Syracuse, Temple, UNLV and Wisconsin. Against that group of n ine, the Aztecs have gone a combined 8-4 the last four seasons.
— SDSU put together a top 10 recruiting class that includes Zylan Cheatham, who considered Washington.
— The Aztecs are 64-6 in their last 70 home games, including a 14-1 record last season. SDSU has sold out every home game at the 12,414-seat Viejas Arena.
F – Skyler Spencer, 6-10, 235, So., 3.6 ppg., 3.6 rpg., 2.0 bpg.
F – Winston Shepard, 6-8, 205, So.,11.0, 4.6, 2.1 apg
G – Josh Davis, 6-7, 215, Sr., 8.4, 9.4, 1.0
G – JJ O’Brien, 6-7, 220, Jr., 10.7, 5.6, 1.4
G – Xavier Thames, 6-3, 195, Sr., 17.1, 2.9, 1.7
— The Huskies must find somebody who can stay in front of Thames and keep him out of the lane. He kills teams with dribble penetration and he’s got a knack for drawing fouls. In the past three games, he’s attempted at least 10 free throws. He was 18 for 21 at the line against Marquette and Creighton.