Fresno, CA (Sports Network) - Mountain West Conference play gets underway
tonight in the Golden State, as the Fresno State Bulldogs entertain the 16th-
ranked San Diego State Aztecs at the Save Mart Center.
Taking on teams from inside the state boundaries has been a specialty of the
Aztecs lately, with the team posting 31 straight victories over opponents from
California which is easily the longest streak among Division I programs. Last
week, the team continued that domination as it took out Cal State Bakersfield
at home in a 72-57 final.
A favorite to capture the MWC title again this year, the Aztecs are the two-
time defending conference champions as they begin league play here in 2012-13.
As for the Bulldogs, they just recently snapped a four-game slide with an
89-64 romp over Sonoma State on Dec. 30. With that latest victory FSU is one
game under .500 as it begins play in a new league after coming over from the
Western Athletic Conference. From a defensive standpoint, FSU has held all but
one of 13 opponents this season to less than 70 points.
The relationship between these two teams dates back to 1940, with the Aztecs
holding a 54-48 advantage according to their records. San Diego State has won
four straight between the former WAC combatants, claiming a 62-58 victory in
November of 2009.
Matching their second-best start to a season during their Division I history,
the Aztecs took care of business versus Cal State Bakersfield a week ago as
Jamaal Franklin put together a double-double consisting of 18 points and 12
rebounds, adding four assists and two blocked shots in order to offset his
five turnovers. Chase Tapley dropped in another 14 points as the team held the
Roadrunners to just 37.5 percent shooting from the floor and outscored the
visitors by a 27-6 margin at the free-throw line. Franklin, who missed one
game earlier in the campaign, has been a fixture at the charity stripe for
SDSU already with 79-of-101 shooting, which is rather impressive given that
all of the team's opponents combined are just 113-of-185 at the stripe over 14
games. Franklin leads the team in both scoring (17.2 ppg) and rebounding (9.9
rpg) and is also first with 46 assists, so you can forgive him for shooting
only 24.5 percent behind the 3-point line to some degree.
Fresno State scored the first points of the game against Sonoma State and
never looked back, leading by as many as 25 points in the waning moments as
the hosts shot 54.5 percent from the floor and an even more impressive 55.0
percent (11-of-20) beyond the arc. However, the Bulldogs still had their
issues elsewhere as they converted just 18-of-31 at the charity stripe and
turned the ball over 16 times. Tyler Johnson scored a game-high 25 points,
adding eight rebounds and four assists, followed by Marvelle Harris with 20
points off the bench and Kevin Olekaibe with 15 and four of the unit's 13
steals as they forced 21 turnovers themselves. Olekaibe, one of the nation's
top scoring guards last season with 17.8 ppg as he let fly from all over the
floor, has limited his shot selections greatly in 2012-13 and has but five
double-digit scoring games thus far. He has shown some signs of life recently
with three straight double-digit efforts, but still he is posting only 8.5
ppg. Taking the lead in the scoring department this time around is Tyler
Johnson with 10.8 ppg.
The Sports Network