San Diego St.-Wyoming Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- Following his team's third loss of the season, San Diego State coach Steve Fisher pointed to his program's ability to avoid back-to-back losses as a reason for optimism.
The 15th-ranked Aztecs will put that resiliency - as well as their spot in the Top 25 - on the line Saturday when they try to bounce back with a victory at Wyoming.
San Diego State, which earned a share of the regular-season Mountain West Conference title the past two seasons, has only two losing streaks within the league since the start of the 2009-10 season.
This time, the Aztecs (14-3, 2-1) are focused on moving past their first home loss since February after falling 82-75 to UNLV on Wednesday night. San Diego State shot 38.8 percent - hitting only 3 of 19 from 3-point range - and was outrebounded 43-31.
"We need now to clean up what we didn't do well, but leave it on the doorstep," Fisher said. "We will have that resolved. We will have a hard game on Saturday at Wyoming."
After the best start in program history at 13-0, the Cowboys (14-2, 1-2) will try to show they belong in the MWC title hunt despite losing two of their last three.
They looked like anything but a championship contender Wednesday, shooting 24.0 percent in a 49-36 loss at Fresno State. Leading scorer Leonard Washington (14.4 points per game) was held to a season-low six on 3-of-10 shooting.
It was the program's lowest point total since a 27-25 win over BYU on Jan. 23, 1982.
"We seemed to have a little hurry in our game because we were down all game," coach Larry Shyatt said. "I thought we had great opportunities in the second half, but we missed 13 free throws and you just cannot do that."
The Cowboys, who had a 12-game home winning snapped in a last-second 63-61 loss to Boise State on Jan. 9, hope to get back on track against a San Diego State team that allowed its most points of the season Wednesday.
The Aztecs also let UNLV shoot 51.6 percent after holding their four previous opponents under 38.0.
Jamaal Franklin leads San Diego State with 18.4 points per game after scoring 27 on Wednesday. The junior guard has reached 20 points in three straight games for the first time in his career, averaging 23.3 during that stretch.
He finished with 24 points in two wins against Wyoming last season, also turning the ball over 10 times.
While much of Franklin's offense comes inside the arc and at the line - he gets to the charity stripe 7.8 times per game, among the best in the nation - Chase Tapley does his damage from outside. Tapley has hit at least two 3-pointers in 10 of 11 games while making 31 of 67 (46.3 percent) from long range.
San Diego State has shot just 30.2 percent from distance in its last six games, though, and it doesn't figure to get any easier against the Cowboys. Wyoming has limited opponents to 22.4 percent shooting from 3-point range in its last five games, and leads the MWC in scoring defense (54.4 ppg).
The Aztecs have won five straight in the series by an average of 23.3 points, but needed overtime to pull out a 67-58 victory Feb. 22 in the most recent meeting.
San Diego State held the Cowboys to 42 points last January in the latest meeting in Laramie.
Updated January 18, 2013