San Diego State vs. Air Force
Time: 8:30 p.m. PST
Location: Viejas Arena in San Diego, CA
Air Force (16-11, 7-7)
Head Coach: Dave Pilipovich
AF Record: 18-17 / 1st season
Projected Starting Lineup
G – Todd Fletcher (Sr.) 6'2, 183
The senior lead guard was outstanding in the first go-around between these two schools with 13 points and 5 assists. The team was a well-oiled machine!
G – Michael Lyons (Sr.) 6'5, 193
Lyons has only scored 30 points in the past three games since back-to-back 45-point and 27-point outbursts. He's 9-of-30 from the field and 2-of-13 from three during that stretch.
F – DeLovell Earls (So.) 6'5, 220
F – Mike Fitzgerald (Sr.) 6'6, 215
The perimeter forward has been shooting the ball well but hasn't been able to get many looks, as defenses are forcing the ball out of his and Lyons' hands.
F – Taylor Broekhuis (Sr.) 6'10, 220
The main contributors off the Falcons bench are 6-foot-2, 182-pound senior Kyle Green and 6-foot-4, 195-pound sophomore Kamryn Williams. Williams has been the lone bright spot of late with a 25-point outing against Wyoming just a game ago. Rest of the bench is dependent on the matchup and game situation.
San Diego State (20-8, 8-6)
Head Coach: Steve Fisher
SDSU Record: 278-168 / 14th season
Projected Starting Lineup
G – Xavier Thames (Jr.) 6'3, 190
G – Chase Tapley (Sr.) 6'5, 205
It will be the final home game for "Double Deuce" who a four-year starter and is currently the fifth all-time scorer in SDSU history.
"We have talked long and hard about what Chase has meant to this basketball program," Fisher said. "Probably haven't talked long and hard enough over the years but we have beat the drum on it of late. All you have to do is look at the team records and say what value he has brought to this program. He's been a starter since the day he walked in the door. He has never wavered on his commitment of doing what we wanted and he's grown as a basketball player and young man."
F – Jamaal Franklin (Jr.) 6'5, 205
F – J.J. O'Brien (So.) 6'7, 225
F – Deshawn Stephens (Sr.) 6'8, 225
"It's going to be a big deal to us being the last time in Viejas Arena," Stephens said. "We have some of the greatest fans in the world. It's going to be important for us to show out for them, give them a good last show… It's pretty exciting for me being here for the two years. I got to soak in a lot of it. I'm proud to play in the arena and trying tot end it out good."
James Rahon and Winston Shepard will be the first ones off the bench like usual. Both contributors had nice games against AFA in the first game. Freshman Skylar Spencer will feel much more comfortable playing at home, but this matchup against a perimeter heavy squad might cause some concerns again. It will be tough for Dwayne Polee to get some action with the team coming off a week of rest.
Keys to the Game
1) Use the senior night energy. Tapley, Stephens and Rahon will be playing at their final game at Viejas Arena so the energy will be electric despite the late 8:30 p.m. start. Aztecs should get out to an early start.
2) Defend the three-point stripe. Air Force scored 70 points in the first matchup in Colorado with 36 of it coming from beyond the arc. Falcons shot 12-of-30 and nearly 50% from the field. Stay disciplined, stay in front, rotate to shooters and close out.
3) Attack! Simplest way to slow down an up-tempo team is by scoring so the defense can set up. SDSU must attack the basket. They settled for long jump shots in the first game as the team shot 2-of-19 from three.
What to Watch
San Diego State
"It wasn't a shock; the shots just weren't going in," Tapley on if it was a shock that the team shot poorly in the last game. "If we had made more shots here and there we probably would have been in the game towards the end and we wouldn't have to have fouled to stop the clock."
"We haven't shot the ball too well and that has to be our emphasis this week," Pilipovich said. "We got to get ourselves healthier and shoot the ball better. Have to have some more bounce in our step."
"I don't know how I'm going to be emotionally. My focus is going to be getting a win and helping our team with a league record. Walking in there, being the last league game, last game there, it's going to be tough walking out at the end. I mean just seeing the crowd, shaking peoples hand, seeing the faces that you always see in the seats. It's going to be tough but I'm excited for it.
-San Diego State guard Chase Tapley on playing his last game in front of the home crowd
The Aztecs are coming off a weeklong break that should have them energized, hungry and light on their feet. Injuries don't seem to be a problem for the time being as seven days of not playing against other teams will do the trick. It's also senior night! Tapley, Rahon, Stephens and three walk-ons will be playing their final game at Viejas Arena. It's hard to imagine seeing Tapley, possibly the most successful player in school history, go out on a loss. SDSU also needs this victory to avoid the bubble. It only gets worse for AFA: shooting the ball horribly right now, on the road and a 9:30 p.m. MST tip off. Aztecs win this one handily.
San Diego State 72 Air Force 57
Game Day Breakdown: Air Force at SDSU
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