Defending MWC Champions Play 12 Games Against Teams that Advanced Postseason in 2001
A home schedule that features six games against 2002 NCAA Tournament teams, including non-conference home contests against Dick Vitale’s preseason top-ranked team Arizona and Bobby Knight-coached Texas Tech Highlight the 2002-03 San Diego State basketball schedule announced by head coach Steve Fisher on Monday.
San Diego State also has home dates with 2002 NCAA Tournament participants Hawaii, Florida Atlantic, Utah and Wyoming, as well as games against both city schools at Cox Arena.
“We continue to present ourselves with a challenging non-conference schedule to go along with an always competitive Mountain West Conference schedule,” Fisher said. “We are especially excited to have home games with Arizona, a team that will likely be ranked number one in the country in the preseason, as well as Bobby Knight and Texas Tech in the first Big Monday telecast of the season. San Diego is always a big draw and NCAA tournament teams Hawaii and Florida Atlantic make for a very challenging non-conference schedule.”
The Aztecs who went 21-12 last season in winning the Mountain West Conference championship and advancing to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985, have an even more challenging schedule than last season when the Aztecs’ schedule was ranked as the 29th most difficult in the nation and the second toughest in the MWC. San Diego State’s Division I opponents combined to post a 185-146 record last season (55.9 winning percentage). The Aztecs will play 12 games against teams that played in the postseason a year ago, including eight that advanced to the NCAA tournament.
In addition, the Aztecs will have a minimum of 20 televised games this season, including one game on ABC and three on ESPN or ESPN2. Sixteen additional games will be televised locally on Channel 4 San Diego through either ESPN+Plus SportsWest or local origination. Additional games are expected to be televised and will be released upon confirmation.
“The growth of our program is indicated not only in the strength of our non-conference schedule, but also in the amount of television exposure we have locally, regionally and nationally.
Of the 16 regular-season home opponents for San Diego State this season, eight are teams that advanced to postseason tournaments, 11 posted winning records last season and four are teams that finished in the top 31 of the RPI last season. The Aztecs, who went 12-3 in Cox Arena last season and have won 24 of their last 33 home games, will carry a streak of 13 straight non-conference home wins into the season.
San Diego State begins its fourth season under Steve Fisher against Eastern Washington on Saturday, Nov. 23, at Cox Arena. Then the Aztecs hit the road for a pair of games, at Portland (Nov. 27) and at Cal Poly (Nov. 30).
The Aztecs then return home to face UC San Diego on Monday, Dec. 2 and Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Wildcats, one of the preseason favorites to contend for the national championship, went 24-10 and advanced to the Sweet 16 last season. San Diego State junior forward Chris Walton’s older brother, Luke, is a senior on the Arizona team.
The Aztecs travel north for a game at Long Beach State on Dec. 10 before returning to Cox Arena for a meeting with Hawaii on Saturday, Dec. 14. Las year the Warriors went 27-5 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, with their only loss in 17 home games coming at the hands of the Aztecs.
San Diego State then travels to Houston on Dec. 21, before opening a seven-game homestand that will keep the Aztecs at home for more than a month. The seven straight contests at Cox represent the longest homestand for San Diego State since the 1988-89 campaign.
The homestand opens on Saturday, Dec. 28 against Florida Atlantic Sun Conference champion and NCAA tournament participant Florida Atlantic. The Aztecs open the new year with three games in six days in the first week of January. The Aztecs start that stretch with Loyola Marymount on Friday, Jan. 3 before playing play host to Knight’s Texas Tech squad in a nationally-televised Big Monday game on ESPN Jan.6. Two days later, San Diego State entertains crosstown-rival San Diego for city bragging rights.
The Aztecs conclude the seven-game homestand by opening Mountain West Conference play with consecutive home games for the first time since the inaugural MWC campaign. The Aztecs open league action against Utah on Saturday, Jan. 18 and follow that up with a contest Monday, Jan. 20 versus Brigham Young.
The Mountain West Conference sent a league-record six teams to postseason play in 2001-02, making the conference one of just two leagues in the country to place 75 percent of its teams into postseason play. In addition to San Diego State, Utah and Wyoming also participated in the NCAA tournament. Brigham Young, New Mexico and UNLV were invited to the NIT.
Conference highlights include a second Big Monday appearance at home when the Aztecs meet Wyoming on Feb. 3. The Aztecs will also make the program’s third network television appearance, all of which have come in the last two seasons, when San Diego State travels to UNLV to end the regular season on March 8. That game will be televised by ABC.
As of Monday, more than 2,600 season tickets have been sold for the 2002-03 season. That is well above the seasonticket pace from last season when San Diego State averaged a school record 6,165 fans per game.