December 21, 2014

San Diego State has hardly captured the crisp, reliable brand of basketball the Aztecs have come to be known for under coach Steve Fisher.

Following a forgettable six-game stretch, they'll look to settle in with a more consistent style of play Monday night when they host UC Riverside.

Turnovers have been the biggest misgiving this season for the No. 19 Aztecs (8-3), who have recorded double digit giveaways in all but one contest this season. They turned it over 15 times in Saturday's 70-57 win over Ball State after notching 18 turnovers in each of the previous two games.

"We tried to make too many home run, pocket-pass, pinpoint-passes," Fisher said. "You have to be able to eliminate those ... Fifteen turnovers is still too many and we will continue to work on it. I think we're inching along, but we have to take care of the ball better."

Saturday's win marked a much-needed turnaround following Wednesday's overtime loss at Cincinnati, in which the Aztecs made just 5 of 25 3-point attempts and allowed a season-high 47.2 opposing field goal percentage.

Since opening the season 5-0, they have lost to No. 3 Arizona and Washington, and edged out a one-point victory over Long Beach State.

The Aztecs have been solid defensively, ranking among the best teams in the country with 56.6 points allowed per game. Offensive production, however, has been a major concern. They rank ninth of 11 Mountain West teams with 63.0 points per game and have failed to shoot better than 45 percent from the field in five of their last six.

"We're making progress with our offense," Fisher said. "We now have to say, `How can we cut five turnovers off of what we're doing,' and that would be legitimate progress. I'm seeing things we're doing more under control and more with poise."

Fisher attempted to jumpstart the offense Saturday by starting Aqeel Quinn in place of Dwayne Polee II, and the move produced immediate results. Quinn scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds in 18 minutes, but was forced to leave in the second half with a hip pointer. His status for Monday is uncertain.

Should Quinn be unable to go against UC Riverside (6-4), the scoring burden would again fall on junior forward Winston Shepard. He leads the team with 11.3 points per game.

"I would say maybe a handful of teams in the country are playing at their 100 percent," Shepard said. "That's not an excuse for us, but I think we're going to be just fine. We have good guys in the locker room. We have guys that love the game and want to get better."

UC Riverside is 0-10 against San Diego State all time, losing the last two matchups by a combined 61 points. The Highlanders, though, enter Monday's contest with wins in four of their last five games. They knocked off Houston Baptist 78-67 on Saturday after a 77-66 loss at UCLA on Dec. 10.

Taylor Johns leads the team both in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.8), while Jaylen Bland has contributed 14.2 points per contest.

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