San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - San Diego State hopes to continue dominating opponents from the Golden State, as the 24th-ranked Aztecs clash with cross-town rival, San Diego, at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Playing their first true road game of 2013-14, the Aztecs are enjoying unprecedented success against other teams from the Golden State, rattling off a 35-game win streak against such foes. On Sunday, SDSU was in Anaheim at the Honda Center where it finished off nationally-ranked Marquette, 67-59, in order to claim the title in the inaugural Wooden Legacy.
Since bowing to Arizona by a score of 69-60 on Nov. 14, the Aztecs have claimed four straight wins and all five of the team's victories thus far have taken place in California.
As for the Toreros, they've matched their best start to a season since joining Division I, posting seven wins in nine tries. Of the two setbacks for USD, one came in the most recent outing on Saturday in a 73-66 final versus New Mexico in The Pit. The defeat snapped a brief two-game win streak by the Toreros.
The Aztecs lead the all-time series between the programs by a count of 27-17, thanks to a string of seven straight wins overall, including three in a row at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Sizing up a second straight nationally-ranked opponent, the Aztecs turned to Xavier Thames who delivered with a career-best 29 points in the eight-point victory in Anaheim. The Aztecs, who closed the contest on a 14-4 scoring run, failed to have another player score in double figures in the meeting and still managed to get by with 39.3 percent shooting from the floor. Compared to Marquette which was just 1-of-11 beyond the arc, SDSU was almost unstoppable with 6-of-12 efficiency.
Thames paces the team in scoring through six games with his 17.5 ppg, shooting a decent 46.9 percent from the field but an even more impressive 59.3 percent behind the 3-point line. Add in 80.6 percent accuracy at the free-throw line and it is clear that Thames needs to be considered one of the top performers in the Mountain West Conference this season. Also contributing on the offensive end are JJ O'Brien and Winston Shepard with 12.3 and 11.8 ppg, respectively.
Against the Lobos over the weekend, San Diego shot 40.3 percent from the field, was outscored at the free-throw line (26-7) and beaten on the glass (40-26) by the hosts. Johnny Dee tried to give the Toreros a fighting chance with his 25 points, shooting 4-of-9 behind the 3-point line and a perfect 5- of-5 at the charity stripe. Duda Sanadze responded with 18 points, as he matched Dee out on the perimeter. The rest of the unit combined to shoot only 1-of-6 on the outside.
More than anything else, the defense for the Toreros has drawn the most attention in the early going. The group has held the competition to just 37.4 percent shooting from the field and 23.5 percent beyond the arc, en route to 61.6 ppg. Offensively, Dee (17.7 ppg), Sanadze (12.9 ppg), Christopher Anderson (11.7 ppg) and Dennis Kramer (10.0 ppg) shoulder much of the load, while Anderson accounts for 58 of the group's 99 assists to this point.