Game Day Breakdown: UC San Diego at SDSU

Game Day Breakdown of UC San Diego at San Diego State: projected starting lineups, keys to the game, what to watch for and a prediction...

#20 San Diego State vs. UC San Diego
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Viejas Arena in San Diego, CA

UC San Diego (0-0)

Head Coach: Chris Carlson
UCSD Record: 64-74 / 6th season

Projected Starting Lineup

*G – James McCann (Jr.) 5'11, 165

"He has played a lot of minutes at this level, great leadership skills and really good feel for the game. He's really good in transition and space," Carlson said. "I just think his familiarity with what we do and this level will really serve us well. James is a tough person to deal with. If I'm trying to guard James, it's going to be a tough night."

G – MacKenzie McCullough (Jr.) 6'4, 195

*G – Tyler McGrath (Sr.) 6'2, 175

*F – Justin Brue (Sr.) 6'5, 215

F – Colin Porter (Sr.) 6'6, 230

"He hasn't really played a lot for us in the past but he has done a fantastic job in the preseason, great job with his body and I'm really looking forward to good things from him," Carlson explained.


The Tritons bench is an inexperienced group. Top returners coming off the pine are senior Ryan Peters who started in 15 games and junior Matt Bailey. Sophomore Brand Blanchard is a big man that can legitimately score on the low block. UCSD also brings in one of there most herald recruiting classes with Air Force transfer Drew Dyer, Zach McMillian and Hunter Walker who has done a "great job on understanding what we [UCSD] are doing offensively."

San Diego State (0-0, 0-0 MW)

Head Coach: Steve Fisher
SDSU Record: 258-160 / 14th season

Projected Starting Lineup

*G – Xavier Thames (Jr.) 6'3, 190

*G – Chase Tapley (Sr.) 6'3, 195

"Chase [Tapley] is the wily veteran who has been a four-­-year starter for us," Fisher explained on what Tapley brings to SDSU. "You expect him to play with a little more poise and make plays because that's what seniors who have started and been in big games are supposed to do."

*G – Jamaal Franklin (Jr.) 6'5, 205

F – J.J. O'Brien (So.) 6'7, 225

The Utah transfer earned the start in the first exhibition game as he finished the game with 8 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes of play. O'Brien showed off his versatility by grabbing boards off the glass, pushing the break as well as playing inside and out.

F – Deshawn Stephens (Sr.) 6'8, 225


Five Aztecs played at least 13 minutes in the exhibition game against Cal State San Marcos. James Rahon and Winston Shepard were the first two guys off the bench with Shepard receiving the backup point guard role. SDSU fans saw positive flashes from newcomers Dwayne Polee, Skylar Spencer and Matt Shrigley.

(* Returning Starter)

Keys to the Game

1) Preparing for the regular season. Both programs have huge games to begin their season: SDSU facing Syracuse on the USS Midway and UCSD travels to Utah for the Dixie State Classic. The San Diego schools will use this game to prepare themselves for those huge challenges.

2) Tempo. This will be a theme for each squad. SDSU, one of the most athletic and long teams in the nation, wants to get up and down the court. They want a track meet so the Aztecs can score in early offense. It will be essential for San Diego State on Friday night against Syracuse.

3) Injuries. This game is nothing more than just a "dress rehearsal," so it's a must for each team to come away from this game healthy.

What to Watch

UC San Diego

UCSD head coach Chris Carlson stated SDSU head coach Steve Fisher has not requested the Tritons to play zone during the exhibition game, like Fisher did with Cal State San Marcos. Carlson did say that they will play some situational zone defense but it won't be done by request.

San Diego State

Steve Fisher said that he planned to start two different lineups for each of the Aztecs exhibition games. Will O'Brien receive the start again or could it be Rahon, Shepard or possibly Polee?

The Quote

"First off they [SDSU] are just really well coached. It starts with coach [Steve] Fisher, trickles down throughout their whole staff. They do a great job with the development of their players, great sense of who and what they are over there. From a players perspective they play hard, play together, and compete at a high level. Physically they are very gifted, long, athletic and also very smart. Guys like Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley have really high basketball IQ's and it serves them well. There is a reason why they are picked so high and they deserve it."

-UCSD head coach Chris Carlson


This is the first time since 2009 (SDSU defeated UCSD 77-52) that the pair of San Diego schools has faced off. Senior Aztecs leader Chase Tapley was the only player from either team to receive significant minutes in the past matchup (11 points in 25 minutes). The Tritons will look to slow the game down by limiting the possessions and try to out execute SDSU; that's easier said than done. The Aztecs will be able to enforce their will, turning this game into a track meet blowout.

San Diego State 74 UC San Diego 46

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