Cougars, Aztecs Meet Again in huge MWC Showdown: BYU at San Diego St

BYU Cougars at San Diego St Aztecs, Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl, San Diego, CA
Saturday, February 26, 2011, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: San Diego St -3 1/2
Current Line: San Diego St -3 1/2
Opening Total: 141
Current Total: 139 1/2
Money Line: SDSU -165 / BYU +145

Jimmer Fredette and the BYU Cougars travel to San Diego St in a battle for first place in the Mountain West. The Cougars are 3 1/2 point underdogs on the road.

It isn’t a stretch to say this is the biggest game in the history of the Mountain West Conference. BYU and San Diego St are both ranked in the top 10 and have been for most of the season. CBS is actually showing this game on national TV which is almost unheard of on a Saturday afternoon for two relatively small schools.  San Diego St is #6 in the AP poll and #4 in the ESPN poll in both polls and is 27-1 overall.  They are 12-1 in the tough Mountain West Conference. The only blemish on San Diego St’s record occurred at BYU January 26. The Cougars won that game 71-58 led by Jimmer Fredette who lit up the Aztecs for 43 points. The Aztecs have wins over Long Beach St, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Miami-OH, Wichita St, California, TCU twice, Utah twice, UNLV twice, New Mexico twice, Air Force twice, Wyoming and Colorado St. Since the BYU loss, the Aztecs have won 7 straight games including a 70-58 win at Air Force last Saturday. BYU is 26-2 overall and also 12-1 in the MWC. The Cougar’s two losses are at UCLA and New Mexico. BYU has wins over Utah St, South Florida, St. Mary’s, Creighton, Vermont, Arizona, UTEP, UNLV twice, Air Force twice, Utah twice, TCU twice, Colorado St twice, and Wyoming. They have won 6 straight since the New Mexico loss, including an 84-76 win at home versus Colorado St Wednesday night.

BYU leads the overall series against SDSU 47-22, but the teams are tied 17-17 in games played in San Diego. San Diego St is 13-0 at home this season and has won 18 straight overall. San Diego St’s student section is located near the visitor’s bench. Nicknamed “The Show”, the students dress in crazy costumes and jump up and down from tip-off until the end of the game. The students are known for their ability to get inside the opponent’s head with their clever taunts and signs. It makes for a very distinct home court advantage for the Aztecs, much like Duke’s Cameron Crazies. BYU is 5-1 straight up and 4-2 ATS in the last 6 games against the Aztecs. Four of those six games have gone under the total. SDSU is 30-17 ATS as a favorite the last 3 seasons. BYU is 25-10 ATS on the road the last 3 seasons.

BYU has been playing with out reserve forward Chris Collinsworth since conference play began. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Collinsworth averaged only 16 minutes a game and scored 5.9 points a game, but he was one of the Cougar’s top rebounders with 5.6 a game. His little brother Kyle also plays for the Cougars. BYU guard Jimmer Fredette is nursing a bruised calf that occured last Saturday. He played against Colorado St Wednesday and scored 34 points so it shouldn’t be an issue. Fredette is averaging 27.4 points a game to lead the nation in scoring, 3.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists to lead the team, and 1.4 steals a game. He is shooting 41.1% from 3 point range and 89.5% from the free throw line. Guard Jackson Emery  averages 12.6 points a game, 3.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and leads the team in steals with 2.8 a game. Forward Brandon Davies averages 11. points, 6.2 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.4 assists a game. Noah Hartsock averages 8.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and leads the team in blocks with 1.5 a game. BYU is outscoring opponents 83-67 on the season. The Cougars shoot 45.6% from the field and 37% from 3-point range. Cougar opponents are shooting 40.5% from the field. BYU shoots 75.4% from the free throw line. BYU averages 39.8 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +4.5. The Cougars average 15 assists and 11.3 turnovers a game. They force 14.9 turnovers a game on defense. BYU averages 8.1 steals and 4.1 blocks a game.

San Diego St has had a week off to rest and heal some nagging injuries to key players and are pretty healthy right now.  The Aztecs are led by Kawhi Leonard. He is averaging a double double with 15.2 points, and 10.7 rebounds to lead the team in each category. He also averages 2.6 assists and leads the team in steals with 1.4 a game. Senior point guard Gay is averaging 12.1 points, 2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists to lead the team and 1.1 steals a game. Forward Malcolm Thomas averages 11.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and leads the team in blocks with 2.3 a game. Chase Tapley is averaging 8.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. San Diego St is outscoring opponents 72-59 on the season. The Aztecs shoot 47.1% from the field and 35.3% from 3-point range. Aztec opponents are shooting 39.3% from the field. SDSU makes 68.3% of their free throws. The Aztecs average 37.4 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +6.8. San Diego St averages 13.7 assists and 10.9 turnovers a game. SDSU forces 12.4 turnovers a game on defense. The Aztecs average 5.9 steals and 4.8 blocks a game.

This is the highest two mid major teams have been ranked when playing against each since Drake and Butler played as part of ESPN’s Bracket Busters in 2008. Both were ranked in the top 15 at the time.  While it appeared BYU beat the Aztecs pretty handily, The Aztecs pulled to within 4 points with 8 minutes to go, but could never get any closer. BYU rebounds slightly better. San Diego St is better on defense, though BYU’s defense is a little underrated. This should be a great game, and I think San Diego St’s home court advantage will be the difference. The winner of this game has an outside shot at a number 1 seed though they would have to run the table and get some help.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot in 2011. Don’t miss out on any more winners this season.

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