January 31, 2003

San Diego State Opens Three-Game Homestand Against Colorado State

Tip Time: Tip time is set for 7:05 p.m. PST. Television: The game will be televised by Channel 4 San Diego.

San Diego State (11-6 overall/2-2 Mountain West Conference) opens a three-game homestand on Saturday against Colorado State (13-5/2-1). Both teams are trying to rebound from losses over the weekend. The Aztecs lost their second consecutive game, falling at New Mexico, 66-62. Meanwhile, the Rams suffered their first loss in 14 home games this season on Saturday, a 79-77 setback to Wyoming.

The two teams, picked to finish in the lower half of the MWC (SDSU picked fifth and CSU picked sixth in the preseason media poll), are looking to climb back into the conference race. Colorado State enters the contest in a three-way tie for second place, one game behind conference-leading Wyoming. San Diego State is in fifth place, but just one-half game out of second entering Saturday’s play.

On Saturday, the Aztecs suffered their second consecutive loss for just the second time this season at Albuquerque. San Diego State, which shot 55.1 percent from the field while limiting the Lobos to 45.2 percent field goal shooting, was not able to overcome a 19-4 New Mexico edge at the free-throw line.

Despite trailing by as many as 13 points in the second half, the Aztecs rallied to within a single point and had the ball with less than 15 seconds to play. But a Mike Mackell pass missed an open Evan Burns underneath the basket and the Lobos connected on three free throws in the final 3.3 seconds to secure the win.

Colorado State, despite Saturday’s loss, has won nine of its last 12 games. The Rams have already eclipsed their victory total from last season when they posted a 12-18 mark. The Rams have four players that average in double figures, led by sophomore center Matt Nelson (14.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and senior forward Brian Greene (13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg).

This is the 46th meeting between the teams with the Rams owning a 30-15 series lead. The Aztecs own a 12-11 edge in games played in San Diego and have won the last two meetings at Cox Arena. The Aztecs swept the series last season and have won three straight overall, the longest Aztec win streak in the series since claiming five straight from Jan. 5, 1981 to Jan. 27, 1983.

This marks the first of three straight home games for the Aztecs, but the homestand won’t be any picnic. The three upcoming opponents - Colorado State, Wyoming and UNLV - have posted a 39-14 record (73.6 percent) this season. Wyoming is the league’s lone undefeated team in conference play and the Rebels were the preseason pick to win the MWC.

Following the contest, the Aztecs will have a quick turnaround to get ready for a Monday night game against league-leading Wyoming. That game will be televised nationally by ESPN and will begin at 9 p.m. Pacific.

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