Beaten and battered, San Diego State must find a way to turn things around.
The ailing No. 24 Aztecs look to avoid losing four straight games for the first time in seven seasons when they host struggling Wyoming on Wednesday night in a Mountain West Conference matchup.
Two weeks ago, San Diego State (20-6, 6-4) had won 13 of 14 and was atop the Mountain West standings. Then the Aztecs lost 65-63 at then-No. 14 UNLV on Feb. 11, and four days later fell 77-67 to current league leader New Mexico.
The Aztecs might have hit rock bottom Saturday in a 58-56 road loss to an Air Force team that had two previous conference wins. With its league title hopes in serious jeopardy, San Diego State now tries to avoid losing four in a row for the first time since a six-game skid Feb. 12-March 5, 2005.
“I think we have to make sure that we remain determined and believing in ourselves,” coach Steve Fisher said. “When you lose a game and then lose another, you start to wonder. And then you lose a third game that everybody says you’re supposed to win, it can wear on you.
“And the only way to get that hook out of your mouth, to spit it out, is to work up a sweat in practice, come out and find a way to get a win in the next one.”
A 45.6 percent shooting team, San Diego State has made only 43.0 percent of its shots - 28.3 percent (13 of 46) from 3-point range - during the losing streak. The Aztecs shot 29 percent in the second half at Air Force and went 3 of 16 from beyond the arc for the game.
Guard Chase Tapley had 17 points with nine rebounds while Tim Shelton added 13 points and 11 boards Saturday for the Aztecs, who hope to regain some of the swagger they had earlier in the month.
“Just get back to having fun like we had and get at it,” guard Xavier Thomas said. “Having fun and working hard.”
San Diego State has enjoyed itself during a four-game winning streak in this series, beating Wyoming (18-8, 4-6) by an average margin of 26.8 points. Tapley and Jamaal Franklin each scored 12 as the Aztecs shot 51.2 percent and held the Cowboys to 30.6 percent from the field in a 52-42 road victory Jan. 24.
However, it’s uncertain if Franklin (16.0 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) will miss a second straight contest because of a left ankle sprain. Six-foot-11 senior starter Garrett Green also is questionable after he sprained his ankle while posting 10 rebounds in 18 minutes at Air Force. Those absences could pose more problems for the Aztecs against a Wyoming defense that ranks among the nation’s best giving up 54.2 points per game.
Tapley, averaging 15.8 points on the season, has totaled 38 while shooting 16 of 25 in two career home games versus Wyoming.
The Cowboys, who also have dropped four in a row at San Diego State, look to avoid a fourth straight loss overall after falling 54-46 at Colorado State on Saturday.
Wyoming, which has shot 34.2 percent during the three-game skid, is averaging 53.5 points and shooting 35.3 percent shooting in its last four overall against San Diego State.
Cowboys junior forward Leonard Washington scored a team-high 12 points against the Aztecs last month, but he’s scored no more than seven in any of his last three games.