San Diego State Basketball: Aztecs Have Tough Road to Conference Championship

Justin PenicheCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Jamaal Franklin #21 of the San Diego State Aztecs reacts after a play against the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With Saturday's win over Colorado State, the Aztecs moved into a three-way tie with UNLV and New Mexico for first place in the Mountain West Conference.

Seniors Tim Shelton and Garrett Green were the center of attention before tip off, entering their final home game at Viejas Arena. 

Once the game started however, it was sophomore Jamaal Franklin who once again stole the show. 

Franklin tied his season high with 31 points and put the Rams away, scoring 13 of SDSU's final 16 points.  He also led the Aztecs with 16 rebounds.

San Diego State will finish the regular season with road games at Boise State and TCU before heading to Las Vegas for the Conference Tournament.

New Mexico will close out the season by hosting Air Force and Boise State at the Pit.  UNLV will go on the road to Colorado State before closing out their schedule against Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack center where the Rebels are undefeated.

SDSU's path to the conference tournament is by far the toughest,  and it'll have the most stacked against it when the it gets there.

First up for the Aztecs is a trip to Boise State, who they narrowly defeated 58-56 on February 1 at Viejas Arena.  The Broncos are at the bottom of the conference in the standings, but they were just inches away from defeating SDSU on a last-second three-pointer, and they are 11-4 at home.  

Then SDSU travels to TCU, who at 7-5 are only one game behind the conference leaders.  The Horned Frogs have been one of the biggest surprises in the Mountain West and have lost only three home games this season. 

In the conference tournament, UNLV will have the obvious advantage, playing every game on their home floor.  The Aztecs are just 5-4 on the road so far this season—compared to a New Mexico team that is 7-3 in road games and 3-1 when playing at a neutral site. 

It will be a difficult road for an Aztecs team that is trying to win its third-consecutive Mountain West Championship, a feat that would be very impressive, considering they returned only one starter from last year's championship team.