Boise St.-San Diego St. Preview
San Diego State's failure to defend Boise State's perimeter shooting proved costly in their first meeting.
A second loss to the Broncos would take the Aztecs out of the driver's seat for another Mountain West Conference title.
The 24th-ranked Aztecs look to clinch a share of their fourth league championship in five years Saturday night when they host Boise State.
San Diego State (22-6, 12-3) owns a one-game edge over the Broncos (21-7, 11-4) with two left for each team after this matchup, essentially making it a conference title game. The Aztecs have meetings with UNLV and Nevada, which are both sub-.500 in league play. A victory would also almost assure San Diego State a sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Boise State is not as secure in terms of an at-large bid. With games remaining against San Jose State and Fresno State, which are 2-25 and 13-15, this could represent the Broncos' final chance to impress the committee.
The Aztecs had won nine of 10 all-time meetings prior to a 61-46 road loss Feb. 8. They were 2 of 19 from 3-point range while letting Boise State hit 10 of 24.
San Diego State limits opponents to an average of 53.5 points, which ranks third nationally, and 5.0 3-pointers per game. The Broncos hit a conference-best 8.8 per game.
"Boise State gets 3s in a lot of ways, and the first way they get them is transition," coach Steve Fisher said. "If you don't run with a purpose and run with your head down, your man will probably shoot an open 3 on you. We can't let that happen. It happened too often to us last game."
San Diego State has performed much better offensively since shooting 35.7 percent in the loss, averaging 69.0 points on 49.5 percent shooting in four straight victories. Winston Shepard, Aqeel Quinn and JJ O'Brien are all averaging 11.0-plus points while shooting at least 53.1 percent in that span.
The Aztecs have won a school-record 29 straight at home, while Boise State has lost three trips there by a combined six points since joining the conference.
"We're going to go in there with a great mentality and let it rip," coach Leon Rice said. "Since they left here they have been playing spectacular. We know we're going into the hornet's nest but we will be ready to go."
Derrick Marks, the conference leader with 20.1 points per game, scored 19 against the Aztecs but was 1 of 7 from 3-point range. He had 30 points and hit five 3s in Tuesday's 76-65 win over New Mexico.
Marks, who has shot 60.0 percent or better in three of four, is one of three players nationally with six 30-plus point performances, joining Charleston Southern's Saah Nimley and Incarnate Word's Denzel Livingston.
"You can't take (him scoring 30 points) for granted," Rice said. "I watch guys across the country that score 30 and it's like 'Oh my goodness,' but when Derrick does it, I think 'Oh, he did it again.'"
The Aztecs must also be wary of Nick Duncan, who scored a career-high 26 on eight 3-pointers against the Lobos. Duncan was 3 of 3 from deep in the first meeting.
Boise State has dropped 11 of its last 12 on the road against Top 25 teams, winning 83-70 over No. 11 Creighton on Nov. 28, 2012.
San Diego State is 43-1 in its last 44 at home against unranked opponents.