San Diego State has high ranking; Boise State has high hopes

The fifth-ranked Aztecs are just the third top-five team to play against the Broncos in Boise.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comFebruary 5, 2014 

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME? Boise State trailed 26-8, then battled all the way back to attempt the game-winning shot Jan. 8 at San Diego State. Derrick Marks' jumper in the final seconds missed, and the Aztecs tacked on a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds left to take the 69-66 victory. San Diego State leads the all-time series 7-1. Above: San Diego State's Winston Shepard drives the baseline against Boise State's Igor Hadziomerovic in their January meeting.

LENNY IGNELZI — The Associated Press

  • No. 5 SAN DIEGO STATE AT BOISE STATE

    Time: 7:15 p.m.

    Radio/TV: KBOI 670 AM; CBS Sports Network

    Vegas line: Boise State by 1

    Tickets: $14-$20 plus fees; Taco Bell Arena box office or via phone (426-4737)

    Series: San Diego State leads 7-1 (Aztecs won 69-66 on Jan. 8 in San Diego in last meeting)

    Notable: Aztecs coach Steve Fisher won his 300th career game Saturday. … San Diego State is No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage defense (36.1). … Boise State senior Ryan Watkins has 691 career rebounds, and is 12 shy of passing Trent Johnson (1974-78) for fourth place in school history.

— It's something that has happened only twice before in Boise State history, and this time will be the first in more than 14 years. A top-five team is coming to Taco Bell Arena on Wednesday, a team the Broncos have shown they are capable of taking down.

Yes, Boise State against No. 5 San Diego State is one of the Broncos' biggest games not just of this season, but in recent memory. The Broncos and Aztecs have developed an intense rivalry, one decided by a combined 17 points in their past five meetings. Boise State, with an NCAA Tournament résumé lacking a marquee win, did not speak with the media this week for the first time this season, its focus solely on San Diego State.

WHAT'S IN A NUMBER?

The game marks the 14th time a Top 25 team has played at Boise State (The Broncos are 4-9 in those games). Top 10 teams have come to Boise just four times, and the Broncos have lost all four:

Feb. 27, 1982:No. 9 Idaho 83, Boise State 77

Dec. 22, 1987:No. 5 Wyoming 59, Boise State 55

Dec. 30, 1999:No. 3 Cincinnati 78, Boise State 46

Nov. 13, 2007:No. 9 Washington State 86, Boise State 74

PLAYER TO WATCH: SDSU GUARD XAVIER THAMES

The senior leads the Aztecs in scoring (18.0 points per game), assists (2.7 per game), steals (36), free-throw percentage (82.7 percent) and 3-pointers (39). His 21.4 point scoring average in Mountain West games leads the league. Like Boise State's Derrick Marks, he's provided plenty of late-game heroics - sophomore J.J. O'Brien said "he's been saving us'' after scoring 31 points, including 10 in overtime, in a 74-69 victory over Utah State on Jan. 26.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:SDSU FORWARD JOSH DAVIS VS. BSU FORWARD RYAN WATKINS

Two outstanding senior rebounders who could be duking it out all night. Davis is averaging 11.6 rebounds per game, while Watkins is pulling down 10.8 per game.

Watkins is averaging 14.0 rpg in nine MW games. Davis did not play Saturday against Colorado State with a bruised knee and is questionable Wednesday. If he is unable to go, Watkins certainly could be in line for another monster game on the boards. He and Davis had 10 rebounds each Jan. 8 in San Diego.

A MOUNTAIN WEST FIRST?

The Aztecs' 8-0 record in conference play is the best start in school history. No Mountain West team has ever gone unbeaten in league games since the league formed in the 1999-2000 season.

RED-HOT BSU WOMEN SEEK SEVENTH STRAIGHT

Three weeks ago, the Broncos had a sub-.500 record with one lone Mountain West victory over San Diego State.

Now the Broncos are on a six-game winning streak heading into Wednesday's rematch in San Diego (7 p.m. 1350 AM).

Boise State (12-8, 7-2) is alone in second place in the Mountain West, seemingly getting better during its win streak - the last four wins have come by a combined 79 points. The Aztecs (7-11, 4-4) are coming off a 95-48 loss at Colorado State on Saturday.

The Broncos are 0-3 all-time at San Diego State, but have three road victories already this season, matching 2012-13's total.

Dave Southorn, 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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