Falcons hope to soar past 22nd-ranked Aztecs

12:22 PM, Feb 2, 2013   |    comments
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USAFA, CO (Sports Network) - Having had a week to enjoy their massive blowout win over 15th-ranked New Mexico at home, the 22nd-ranked San Diego State Aztecs now set their sights on the Air Force Falcons in Mountain West Conference play at Clune Arena.

Not only did the Aztecs crush New Mexico last weekend, 55-34, the victory marked the first time in 30 years that SDSU was able to defeat league foes in back-to-back outings by at least 20 points. On Jan. 23, the team throttled Nevada in Reno, 78-57, which means the Aztecs are now 4-2 in conference play under head coach Steve Fisher, who is now in his 14th season with the program.

As for the Falcons, a squad which is also 4-2 in league play, they were in action just a few nights ago against Fresno State and used the opportunity to deliver a 62-50 victory at home. The win was the fourth in a row for the Academy, one shy of the season-long five-game run the team put together to kick off the 2012-13 campaign.

San Diego State has won eight of the last nine meetings against the Falcons, but last season the teams split their two matchups and in games played at the USAF Academy, the hosts trail by only three games, 17-14.

The defensive effort by the Aztecs last week versus New Mexico was nothing short of amazing as the team tied the program record for fewest points allowed at the Division I level. The Lobos shot a dismal 25.0 percent from the floor in the outing as only one player scored in double figures and just two made more than a single field goal. For SDSU, JJ O'Brien registered a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, followed by Jamaal Franklin with 10 points on a mere 4-of-16 shooting from the floor, the team surviving with 40.4 percent accuracy overall. Franklin, who is playing in excess of 33 minutes per game, leads the team in scoring with 17.4 ppg and is also first with 9.4 rpg, 64 assists and 29 steals, but all of that does not cover up the fact that he has connected on only 26.6 percent of his 3-point tries this season. Chase Tapley, who is dealing with a wrist injury at the moment, is second in scoring with 14.6 ppg and has been much more efficient out on the perimeter at 41.1 percent.

The Falcons turned the ball over 15 times and shot just 5-of-17 behind the 3- point line against Fresno State on Wednesday night, but still the team played well enough to post a double-digit win. Todd Fletcher led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor, including a perfect 3-of-3 showing beyond the arc, while Michael Lyons chipped in with 15 points for the hosts. Against the last three league opponents, the Falcons have limited each of them to 50 points or less, which is a huge turn-around from having allowed 80 to Boise State and 79 to Colorado State in back-to-back decisions last month. Over six league bouts the competition is posting 66.3 ppg, which is only fractions of a point less than what the Falcons are generating at the moment. Lyons (15.5 ppg), Mike Fitzgerald (14.3 ppg) and Fletcher (10.7 ppg) have combined to hit 26-of-61 behind the 3-point line to give the squad a perimeter presence.

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