GAME NOTES: Matching up for the second time in the last four days, the San Diego State Aztecs and the Boise State Broncos get together in the quarterfinals of the 14th annual Mountain West Conference Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Aztecs, the fourth seed in this year's event, have brought home the title four times over the years, most of any league program. San Diego State has been a fixture in the championship round of late as well, taking part in four straight title games and winning in both 2010 and 2011. The Aztecs have hit a few bumps in the road of late, dropping two of the last three games during the regular season to fall to 9-7 in conference play, which is where the fifth- seeded Broncos are as well.
Boise State is playing in this tournament for just the second time after joining the league last season following its departure from the Western Athletic Conference.
San Diego State, which defeated the Broncos in the quarterfinals of the tournament last season, own a 5-1 mark against BSU all-time. However, the good news for the Broncos is that they finally broke through over the weekend with a 69-65 final at home.
The winner this clash will be back on the floor on Friday, taking on the winner of the Wyoming/New Mexico contest in the semifinals.
The Broncos broke out strong in the early portion of the campaign, losing only twice to Michigan State and Utah, both on the road, through to the second week of January. In their second go-around in the MWC, the Broncos had some troubles but also came out on top in games where they should have been over- rated, thanks to the efforts of Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks, both of whom were named to the All-MWC Second Team. Drmic, the only player to start all 30 games for BSU, led the way in scoring with 17.2 ppg as he knocked down almost 40 percent of his 3-point tries. Drmic was also good for close to five rebounds per game and was second on the unit in assists with 73, trailing only Marks (16.4 ppg) who handed out 114 assists when he wasn't shooting 42.6 percent beyond the arc.
Early on this season the Aztecs were one of the hottest teams in basketball, but the team's 12-2 non-conference mark may have been a bit deceiving because many of those victories came against weaker competition and the two setbacks were logged versus Syracuse and Arizona on neutral floors. San Diego State failed to build much momentum during conference play, but that didn't stop Jamaal Franklin from having another outstanding campaign as he averaged 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest versus the rest of the MWC. Named First- Team All-MWC this year, Franklin was given solid support by Chase Tapley, who accounted for 13.4 ppg and 80 assists, second only to Franklin who handed out 91 in his 29 appearances.
The Broncos have revenge from last year as a motivating factor, but the same goes for San Diego State which has their latest defeated against BSU far more fresh in their mind. Expect head coach Steve Fisher to have his Aztecs stepping up as the pressure mounts.
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