The Daily Aggie :: 03/19/14

The Aggie basketball team is making their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, fourth in five years and their third trip to Spokane in the past seven years. Spokane has been the site of the Aggies' most competitive games in the tournament with the Aggies hanging tough with Kevin Durant's Texas squad in 2007 then nearly pulling off a big comeback against Michigan State in 2010.

So what must the Aggies do this year to stick around past the first day? They'll be going up against a team in San Diego State that has lost just four times this season. With such a small sample size it's a bit harder to draw solid conclusions on how to beat the Aztecs but we're still going to try.

Number one, the Aggies have to get out to a fast start, get the lead and hang onto it. In SDSU's four losses they led those games for a total of 11 minutes, nine seconds out of 160 minutes of basketball. They never led in their loss to Arizona and at Wyoming they led for just 21 seconds.

Second, piggybacking off of the need for a fast start, if the Aggies don't jump out to a lead, they can't get too far behind. You're not going to get many big runs against SDSU and the Aztecs play very well with the lead. The largest lead they've lost all season is eight points at Utah State back in late January.

If the Aggies are able to hang around, they need to have the lead with five minutes remaining in the game. SDSU is just 1-4 on the year when they've trailed with five minutes left to play, however, they are 26-0 when they lead with five minutes remaining and have won their past 118 games when leading with five minutes left to play.

Finally, this may sound simple but the Aggies need to be able to score. Of San Diego State's 29 wins, the Aztecs have scored between 60 and 79 points in 22 of them and they've held their opponents under 60 points in 18 of their 33 games, over half of their contests, and another 13 games where the opponent has scored between 60 and 69 points. While the Aggies are coming in averaging 77 points per game, it's highly unlikely that the Aggies will be able to hit that average based off of what San Diego State has done to their opponents this season. However, if they do hit their average, they have an outstanding chance of winning. Historically the Aztecs have a losing record under Steve Fisher when their opponents score more than 70 points, though they've had two opponents score over 70 points this season and have won both games.

San Diego State has held an opponent to their season low score 13 times this year and the list includes Arizona, Kansas, Creighton, Washington, and UNM.

Obviously there are other things that the Aggies must do tomorrow night including not turning the ball over and hitting free throws but those four keys we just listed, start fast and build a lead, hang around and don't get too far behind, lead with five minutes to go and score more than 70 points are four keys to beating the Aztecs.