Ed Andrieski, Associated Press
San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard (15) tries to drive the lane against Air Force guard Michael Lyons (14) during an NCAA college basketball game at Air Force Academy, Colo., on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011. San Diego State beat Air Force 70-58.
SAN DIEGO — One of the most-anticipated showdowns in this city's checkered sports history won't mean much if the No. 6 San Diego State Aztecs let Jimmer Fredette of the No. 7 BYU Cougars go off for 43 points again.
While the Aztecs players got their second straight day off, coach Steve Fisher and his staff were looking at video on Monday and trying to figure out what might work against Fredette on Saturday, when the Aztecs host the Cougars in an 11 a.m. local tipoff that will accommodate a national CBS broadcast.
Then ranked No. 4, the Aztecs lost 71-58 to then-No. 9 BYU at Provo on Jan. 26 because they couldn't stop Fredette. He highlighted the first Top 10 showdown in Mountain West Conference history by scoring BYU's final 15 points of the first half and 24 of 27 in one stretch.
Now comes the eagerly awaited rematch. Once again, SDSU has plenty of time to prepare for Jimmer.
"We had a week to prepare last time and we didn't get it done," Fisher said.
"Obviously we go back and watch every game they've played since we played them last, or bits and pieces of them," Fisher added. "We'll see what others have done. He was a mere mortal the past two games and was in the mid-20s.
"In those games he missed shots that he had made before. We hopefully will do a few things differently. It's going to be hard to beat them if he gets 43 points again. We'll see what we can do, but he's been a hard guard for us for his career. So I'm sure he's excited about coming in."
SDSU (27-1, 12-1 Mountain West) and BYU (25-2, 11-1) didn't move up in The Associated Press' poll on Monday even though the four top teams in last week's poll all lost.
BYU hosts Colorado State on Wednesday night before heading to San Diego.
Saturday's game at 12,414-seat Viejas Arena has been sold out for nearly two months. Tickets are available at well-above face value on one website, including two at a staggering $1,400 each.
"It's going to be an intense game," point guard D.J. Gay said.
"We've been a hard ticket all season long and now we're an impossible ticket," Fisher said. "There are no tickets. I'm out of the ticket business. I've taken care of family and the people I need to take care of. It's a good problem to have."
Although both teams are looking at a high seed in the NCAA tournament, the winner will have the inside track at the Mountain West Conference championship.
Three days after they beat the Aztecs, the Cougars lost at New Mexico.
"In all probability, we're playing to see who's going to win the Mountain West Conference. That's No. 1," said Fisher, whose team won 70-58 at Air Force on Saturday. "It's not a given because we'll both have two games to play. But it's a huge game. It's a huge game from a national NCAA tournament rating opportunity. So all of that factors in. We're getting a lot of play and a lot of talk and a lot of publicity, as is BYU. And it's justified for both teams.
"These are two really, really, good teams playing one other," the coach said. "And I would think that both San Diego State and BYU, regardless of what happens on Saturday, will get good, high seeds in the NCAA tournament, which should bode well for opportunity. ... Obviously we need to find a way to win. We want to win the conference championship, and this is a huge game for either team that wins it."
The Aztecs will practice Tuesday through Friday, with Fisher promising "at least one, if not two, pretty vigorous practices."
It'll all come down to what the Aztecs can do against Jimmer.
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"We just can't give him 43 points," guard D.J. Gay said. "That's what we're going to have to go and try and figure out. He's the heart and soul of that team, but they do have other great players on their team. We did a good job on Jackson Emery and (Brandon) Davies, they played well. Those are guys that can step up at any given moment and take over a game as well. I don't know if it's taking care of everybody else and letting Jimmer do Jimmer, or try to stop Jimmer and have everybody else step up."
Fisher said Fredette's presence makes his teammates dangerous, too.
"When he's on the floor, everybody else has a little more opening because there's more than one set of eyes on him. He's very, very good, and he knows it," Fisher said.