November 24, 2014

San Diego State is relying on a stingy defense to make up for its woes at the other end of the court.

The 15th-ranked Aztecs may not have enough to overcome another lackluster performance in their Maui Invitational opener, however, with a matchup against high-scoring former conference rivals BYU on Monday night.

San Diego State has opened with three straight wins despite shooting 35.8 percent and averaging 61.0 points. The Aztecs shot a combined 28.3 percent and went 6 of 33 from 3-point range (18.2 percent) in the last two games while averaging 52.0 points.

"You can't doubt that you can shoot the ball," coach Steve Fisher said. "The more you talk about it, the more people are going to say, 'Can they make a shot? Can they make a shot?' We can make a shot. And we will."

Fisher's team made just 14 of 57 shots (24.6 percent) against Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday but held the Roadrunners to 21.4 percent shooting and a 1-for-20 performance from 3-point range in a 51-27 rout.

San Diego State is allowing 44.7 points per game and 31.7 percent shooting, and its opponents have gone missed 9 of 51 on 3-pointers.

The Aztecs might have a tougher time containing BYU (3-0), which is averaging 95.7 points and shooting 53.4 percent. The Cougars beat Division III opponent Southern Virginia 101-48 on Wednesday in its final tune-up before heading to Maui after topping Long Beach State and Arkansas-Little Rock.

"We're going to have to make some shots and we'll see if we have a defense that can stop them," Fisher said. "This is the best running team that we will play all season. They run the score and they have a lot of weapons. This will be a challenge and this will be a great game for us."

BYU leading scorer Tyler Haws had 13 points in 17 minutes Wednesday after scoring a combined 39 in 63 minutes in his prior two games.

As a freshman in 2009-10, Haws started and totaled 27 points in two wins against San Diego State before taking two seasons off for a Mormon mission to the Philippines. He enters this game needing four points to join former teammate Jimmer Fredette as one of five Cougars with 2,000 in a career.

BYU is facing its former league rivals for the first time since a 72-54 loss in the 2011 Mountain West Conference tournament championship.

"I'm excited. They always have really, really good athletes. I think their style really fits our style," Haws said. "They want to push the ball and it's always an up-tempo game and we like that challenge. We like when teams want to do that."

The Cougars have won seven of the past nine matchups and took two of three in the 2010-11 season when both teams were in the Top 10.

San Diego State and BYU will face either Pittsburgh or host Chaminade in their next games in Hawaii on Tuesday. The Maui Invitational field includes No. 2 Arizona.

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