San Diego State struggled against one of the nation's most renowned zone defenses -- and the elements -- in losing its opener.
It's unlikely to have the same offensive problems in its first indoor game.The 25th-ranked Aztecs look to bounce back Tuesday night when they host NAIA school San Diego Christian College.San Diego State has high expectations after returning four starters from last season's NCAA tournament team while also welcoming a highly touted recruiting class that includes three Division I transfers and three freshmen.Steve Fisher's team put together a less-than-stellar showing in Sunday's opener, however, falling to then-No. 9 Syracuse 62-49 on the flight deck of the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Midway.The Aztecs fell behind 17-4 in the opening 8:30 and were never able to get in rhythm. They shot 27.0 percent (17 for 63) and were 1 for 18 from 3-point range in finishing with their fewest points since a 75-49 loss to New Mexico on Feb. 21, 2009."You can't get frustrated when you play," Fisher said. "I thought we got frustrated, whether it was missed shots or blocked shots. We allowed that to get in the way."Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames -- the Aztecs' only scorers to average in double figures last season -- were brutal shooting the ball. Franklin, who averaged a team-best 17.4 points in 2011-12, scored 11 on 3-of-12 shooting, Tapley had eight on 3 of 13 from the field and Thames made 1 of 11 shots to finish with three points.While the wind coming off the Pacific Ocean may have had something to do with some of their shooting woes, the Aztecs also had few answers for the Orange's 2/3 zone."They are really big," Franklin said. "It was frustrating that we couldn't really score and when you have somebody real big in front of you, it makes it a lot more frustrating."The Aztecs, who dropped five spots in the poll Monday, now face a San Diego Christian team which only has two players on its roster taller than 6-foot-6.The Hawks (0-1) have also had little luck stopping anyone in their first three games, allowing an average of 89.7 points on 50.8 percent shooting. This matchup against a Division I team is considered an exhibition for San Diego Christian, as was the case in previous losses to California-Riverside and San Diego."As we head into these D-I games against top level competition, we need to remember that we will be outmatched on the front line," coach Tim Cook told the school's official website after Friday's 91-58 loss to San Diego.The Aztecs easily defeated the Hawks 83-52 in January and won 88-69 in the only other meeting in 2010.Senior forward Deshawn Stephens led SDSU in last year's matchup with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while Franklin scored 11. The Aztecs had a 37-16 advantage in rebounding and prevented San Diego Christian from having a starter score more than eight.The Hawks had three players score 18 -- Kevin Dawson, Kwaminique Brandon and Raphael Rodriguez -- in the only game that has counted toward their record, a 95-89 loss to Simpson College on Nov. 1.