Thames' Back an X-Factor

San Diego State will tip off Mountain West Conference play against Fresno State on Wednesday night. Aztecs point guard Xavier Thames will be a game-time decision...

San Diego State will tip off Mountain West Conference play against Fresno State on Wednesday night. It will only be their second game in 15 days.

Aztecs head coach Steve Fisher doesn't think his squad will come out rusty despite the holiday layoff.

"I'm not worried about that," Fisher said in the men's basketball weekly press conference. "I'm a bit concerned about the health of our team. We'll be ready to play. We will be excited to play. If we don't play well, it won't be because we had a time-span between say Arizona, one game, and the start of conference play. I don't think that's an issue."

The press conference then flipped to the question: When you mention you're a little concerned health-wise, who are the players in particular who are questionable?

"Xavier Thames, Xavier Thames and Xavier Thames," Fisher said. "He's my No. 1 concern."

Xavier Thames has been dealing with a back strain that he aggravated just minutes into the second half vs. Cal State Bakersfield last Wednesday.

Fisher thinks the redshirt junior point guard will be a game-time decision against the Bulldogs of Fresno State.

Not only would the Aztecs lose their third leading scorer (10.2 PPG) and second best perimeter shooter but most importantly their lone lead guard.

If Thames weren't able to play on Wednesday night the Aztecs wouldn't have a true point guard on their active roster with LaBradford Franklin still on a leave of absence from the team. 6-foot-8 freshman Winston Shepard, who has earned the backup point guard role, would most likely receive major minutes.

Thames is not the only injury San Diego State is dealing with heading into conference play.

"DeShawn [Stephens], I don't know what it is, but he's got a shoulder issue that kept him out of some of yesterday's [Sunday] practice," Fisher explained. "I feel that DeShawn will play, and play really well for us. So I'm not as concerned about him, although when you miss practice that does impact a little bit."

While Deshawn Stephens' shoulder is something to keep an eye on it's not something that will not keep him coach Fisher up at night.

"I'm concerned about (Thames)," Fisher said. "I'm concerned about (Thames') back. We'll just have to see."

The Real Season Begins

Fresno State will play their first ever Mountain West Conference game when the Aztecs travel to central California.

"We have played them before in my tenure here. Last time we played them we had a really hard-fought, close game at their place," Fisher said of Fresno State. "I would expect more of the same. Our job is to make sure we're doing what we want to do, and getting better as we do it. So that's the challenge for us."

The Mountain West is deeper than ever as each team performed extremely well during non-conference play, earning the league a No. 2 ranking in the RPI as of January 7th, 2013.

"This league is very, very good," Fisher said. "I think the recognition nationally with the RPI, with Wyoming undefeated, with (UNLV), New Mexico, Colorado State, Boise State and on and on and on."

"This is a league that people across the country, when you say, `Mountain West,' you say `Good basketball.' And that's what it is. So you have to play well every game to have a chance to win, home or away. And that's exciting also. Little bit nerve-racking, but exciting. So we will be ready to go, and I'm counting on us playing well."

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