NR/22 San Diego State vs. 24/24 Colorado State
Time: 7:00 p.m. PST
Location: Moby Arena in Fort Collins, CO
24/24 Colorado State (19-4, 6-2)
Head Coach: Larry Eustachy
CSU Record: 19-4 / 1st season
Projected Starting Lineup
G – Dorian Green (Sr.) 6'2, 192
G – Wes Eikmeier (Sr.) 6'3, 168
The shooter has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 games including a season-high 22 points against SDSU over a month ago.
F – Greg Smith (Sr.) 6'6, 221
Smith had 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting with 12 rebounds in 38 minutes vs. Nevada last Wednesday.
F – Pierce Hornung (Sr.) 6'5, 210
"He's fine," Eustachy said of Hornung who has been sick. "I mean he lost about 10 pounds, we both got sick, and I gained about 10 and he lost 10 so I don't understand how that works. We did something I never do and took two days off after the Reno game… So my point Pierce has had some rest. He's actually had three of the past four days off. He's fine, he's healthy."
F – Colton Iverson (Sr.) 6'10, 261
"He did a good job," Franklin said of Iverson after the first matchup. "He is a big post player, he forced our bigs into foul trouble. He is a great player. Strong, big; he can move his feet really well down low and he rebounds well. Colorado State is the best rebounding team we have played so far. We have played some good teams, including Syracuse and Arizona but I would say Colorado State is the best at rebounding the ball."
The first man off the bench for the Rams is Arizona transfer Daniel Bejarano. He was effective against the Aztecs in the first game with 13 points (6/14 FG) and 11 rebounds. Jon Ocetus gets some run to add some athleticism and length. But the team is mostly a 7-man rotation so the five senior starters will play most of the game. Might see big man Gerson Santo spell Iverson for a few minutes.
NR/22 San Diego State (18-5, 5-3)
Head Coach: Steve Fisher
SDSU Record: 276 -165 / 14th season
Projected Starting Lineup
G – James Rahon (Sr.) 6'5, 205
Rahon is averaging 15 points per game during the two-game winning streak by connecting on 6-of-12 from three.
"I think just keep shooting," Rahon said of shooting out of his slump. "The only way to get out of a slump is to shoot out of it. I have gotten a lot of extra work in and I think that has led to a couple good shooting nights."
"I think it was just a matter of time," Rahon said of his recent shooting performance. "I've been working hard on my shot, so I expect every shot to go in. It's been nice to see them go in the last couple games."
It's possible junior Xavier Thames might start who returned to action against Fresno State after missing the previous two games.
"We're hopeful that (Thames) will be able to play a little bit more," Fisher said. "He appears to be OK after having played (on Saturday)."
G – Chase Tapley (Sr.) 6'5, 205
The senior guard has been dealing with a slightly sprained wrist but able to contribute without scoring. Last time these two faced off he had 12 of his 19 points in overtime with temperature of 101 degrees.
F – Jamaal Franklin (Jr.) 6'5, 205
Franklin has been struggling offensively as he hasn't shot above 44% from the field in 11 straight games. Thing really going for him has been his ability to get to the line. Franklin is shooting 7.5 free throws a game at 77.7%.
F – J.J. O'Brien (So.) 6'7, 225
The sophomore had 9 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in 38 minutes in the last outing vs. CSU.
"J.J. O'Brien, is `Mr. Do-it-all.' He does a little bit of everything and does it very, very effectively," Fisher said. "He's quietly become maybe our best offensive rebounder. He finds ways to get his hands on balls. He will be up to the challenge against Colorado State, which is probably the best offensive rebounding team in the country."
F – Deshawn Stephens (Sr.) 6'8, 225
AztecReport.com stated last time these two teams faced off that this matchup would be a huge test for the senior. Stephens didn't step up to the challenge, fouled out in 29 minutes with 2 points and 5 rebounds.
It appears Thames will begin from the pine and should be the first one off the bench along with freshman Winston Shepard. He's averaging 6.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in his last three games. Skylar Spencer looked to be the more effective defender and rebound against Iverson as the Aztecs didn't double the post.
Keys to the Game
1) Rebounding. Colorado State leads the nation in rebounds (42.4 per game) and the conference in offensive boards (14.7 per game). The top three rebounders in the league in this matchup: Iverson, Franklin and Hornung.
2) Start of the Game. The Rams haven't played since last Wednesday against Nevada and Eustachy did something uncharacteristic by giving his team multiple days off since leaving Reno (Nev.). Will his team come out fresh and energized or flat and sloppy? Aztecs must get out to an early lead.
3) Orange Out. It's the first time since 1953-54 that CSU is ranked in the AP Top-25. Moby Arena only averages 4,683 fans per game but expect a sold out crowd in the fourth annual Orange Out (3-0).
What to Watch
San Diego State
"We've been streaky," Fisher said of his team from three-point range. "We've had 13 threes in a game and we've been 2-for-19 in a game. I can usually tell who's shooting well from watching them in practice, and most of the time it will translate. We have not had some of our best 3-point shooters able to shoot in a couple games (due to injury). That being said, you have to make some shots. You have to make some threes. Hopefully we can do that on Wednesday. The key in my opinion is don't force your first one, and be confident when you get a good look that you're going to make it."
"There's a lot of basketball to be played," Eustachy said of his team. "We certainly don't want to be comfortable. I'm excited that our team is right up towards the top in the conference standings. Our goal is to win the conference. It's going to be extremely difficult but proud of our guys thus far and we'll continue to be regards of what happen."
"That would be huge. Like coach said, they're ranked now, they're deserving of it. It would be great for our spot in the rankings. It would be great for getting back in first place in conference. It would be a great confidence boost for the team. It would just be a great win."
-San Diego State shooting guard James Rahon on what a win at Colorado State would mean to this team
It was just a little more than four weeks ago that SDSU defeated CSU 79-72 in overtime at Viejas Arena. It was the tale of two halves as the Aztecs won the first half (41-23), while the Rams answered with a (40-22) second half. Then it was the heroics of Tapley who won the extra period single handily. Now San Diego State will travel to Fort Collins where CSU has won 26 straight home games, which is the third-longest streak in the nation. In-game concerns for SDSU is the inside presence of Iverson, Hornung and company. The combination had 18 offensive rebounds at Viejas Arena. Defensively Fisher didn't send any double teams when the ball touched the post but we'll see what they have up their sleeves this go around. That being said with Thames and Tapley not at 100% and the Rams coming off a weeklong break, it's hard to see the Aztecs pulling out the victory in this "Orange Out." The recipe for an SDSU win is to rebound and shoot the ball tremendously so it gets to a possession-by-possession game and have the Aztecs out execute the opposition in the final minutes.
Colorado State 72 San Diego State 65
Game Day Breakdown: NR/22 SDSU at 24/24 CSU
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