Lions face monumental task in clash with 25th-ranked Aztecs

Nov 21, 2012 - 3:43 PM San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - The 25th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs take aim at their third straight win as they play host to the Lions of Arkansas- Pine Bluff on Wednesday night.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which plays its basketball out of the SWAC, is in the midst of an 11-game road trip to start the season, and the Lions are 1-2 thus far, with all games taking place out in Honolulu as part of the Rainbow Classic. The team opened the season with a 72-68 loss to Houston Baptist and that was followed by an 81-54 rout at the hand of host Hawaii. UAPB finally put one in the win column when it topped Maryland-Eastern Shore in a 62-52 final on Nov. 12.

San Diego State dropped a 62-49 decision to Syracuse aboard the U.S.S. Midway in the season opener, but rebounded to topple San Diego Christian (91-57) and Missouri State (60-44) to pull a game above .500. The Aztecs will head north to take on Golden State rivals USC and UCLA next, and they will begin Mountain West Conference play at Fresno State on Jan. 9, 2013.

San Diego State won the only other meeting between these two teams, taking a 93-61 decision at home in December of 2008.

Lazabian Jackson logged a double-double consisting of 19 points and 10 rebounds to help push Arkansas-Pine Bluff past Maryland-Eastern Shore, and claim the team's first win of 2012-13 in the process. Terrell Kennedy added 15 points and Davon Haynes finished with 13 for the Lions, who shot 44.2 percent from the field, which included a 7-of-15 effort from three-point range. The team was off the mark at the foul line (9-of-16), but held UMES to 23.0 percent field goal efficiency and stymied the Hawks to the tune of 5-of-33 (.152) from beyond the arc. UAPB won the game despite losing the battle on the board (48-34). Jackson has led the Lions in scoring in each of the last two games, while Kennedy had top honors in the opener.

Jamaal Franklin is not only San Diego State's top player, but he is one of the best in the MWC as well. The 6-foot-5 junior is averaging a double-double consisting of 20.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, and he also paces the squad with seven blocks. Chase Tapley is the only other double-digit scorer at the moment, although his 10.7 ppg come the hard way as he is shooting just 32.4 percent from the floor, making good on only 3-of-15 three-point tries. As a team, the Aztecs have really struggled from long distance (.153), but their effort at the defensive end has been top notch. Foes are netting a mere 54.3 ppg in hitting just 35.6 percent of their total shots, and they are guilty of 19 turnovers per outing. Franklin turned in 22 points and 12 rebounds in the recent win over Missouri State, just four days after producing 28 points and a dozen boards against San Diego Christian. Xavier Thames and James Rahon tallied 11 and 10, respectively for SDSU, which hit just 32.2 percent of its field goal attempts, only 4-of-22 long-range bombs, but held the Bears to 28.1 percent field goal efficiency, which included a 4-of-23 showing from downtown. The Aztecs claimed a massive 52-34 rebounding advantage as well.

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