San Diego State coach Steve Fisher knows his team is in the midst of the easiest stretch of its schedule, and he's not apologizing for it.
Fisher's No. 24 Aztecs continue to tune up for Mountain West Conference play when they host NAIA opponent San Diego Christian College on Thursday night.
San Diego State (12-2) has won five straight after a 94-43 victory over Division III Redlands last Monday. The success of the Aztecs, who went 34-3 a season ago, has made scheduling difficult for Fisher.
This contest is part of a three-game stretch that includes a visit from winless Chicago State on Tuesday.
"I would have rather mixed it up a little bit, but you do what you have to do," Fisher said. "I like what we've done, we've played a number of San Diego schools in the past and we'll continue to do that. I know they're appreciative, the coaches and the players."
The Aztecs have never faced the Hawks (4-6), who fell 55-54 at Point Loma Nazarene on Tuesday to drop to 0-3 in Golden State Athletic Conference play. Point Loma Nazarene lost 78-53 in an exhibition game at San Diego State on Nov. 7.
"We're preparing to get San Diego State better," Fisher said. "I'm not as concerned, no disrespect, with San Diego Christian, as I am about San Diego State."
The Aztecs will play a third straight game without starting point guard Xavier Thames, who is recovering from a sprained knee. Fisher has indicated that Thames could return for the Chicago State game in preparation for the MWC opener against No. 17 UNLV on Jan. 14.
Leading scorer Chase Tapley has seen some time at point guard in place of Thames. He insists that San Diego State is taking this contest seriously.
"We take each game as it's our last and we play like we're playing the best team in the country," Tapley said. "It doesn't matter if it's Division I, Division II, or Division III. Any team can be beat and we just make sure that we're not that team to get upset or to get beat."
There are fewer than 1,000 tickets remaining for Thursday's game at Viejas Arena, which seats more than 12,000. It figures to be an intimidating atmosphere for the Hawks, who played in front of 196 fans Tuesday.
"We had a good crowd in our last game and I think we'll have a good crowd (on Thursday)," Fisher said. "There are still several hundred tickets that are out and we need to get those for folks who haven't had a chance to be here to get in and watch us play and also watch our opponent play."
San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin has started the previous three games, averaging 22.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in his last two.
Benji Arvizu leads San Diego Christian with an 11.3 scoring average, but was held to five points Tuesday. The Hawks committed 20 turnovers that led to 23 points.
San Diego Christian suffered an 84-63 loss at UC Irvine on Nov. 5 in its lone exhibition against a Division I opponent.