The Saint Mary’s Gaels took a big step forward last week with a pair of wins and a last second loss to the BYU Cougars. A win certainly would have been nice, but the solid week has them earning six votes the AP Poll and three votes in the USA Today/Coaches Poll. Now they have a chance to build on that in what should be the toughest game of their non-conference schedule. The Gaels travel down to San Diego to take on the Mountain West preseason favorite, the San Diego State Aztecs.
The Gaels are off to a strong start in the 2010-2011 season as they have five players scoring in double figures, and SMC is actually seventh in the national in scoring, averaging 90.3 points per game. The Gaels’ hot start could put them in a position to do some damage once WCC play begins. SMC was picked to finish third by the media behind Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount. However, the strong start has to be a big confidence-builder for the Gaels.
San Diego State is currently 17th and 19th in the AP and Coaches Polls, which represent highwater marks for the program. They’re 6-0 with their biggest win coming against a then 12th ranked Gonzaga squad up in Washington. This game against Saint Mary’s will provide a solid challenge as they prepare for what should be a tough Mountain West conference.
The top returning player for the Aztecs is forward Kawhi Leonard who is averaging 18.0 points per game, averaging 10.5 rebounds per game, and he has five double-doubles on the year. This season the Aztecs are averaging 77.5 points per game, and allowing 63.7 per game. SDSU is shooting .536 percent from the floor, .321 percent from behind the arc, and .640 from the free throw line.