San Diego State had its 11-game winning streak snapped by Colorado State in its most lopsided loss of the season in January. Having leading scorer Jamaal Franklin back and ready for the rematch should only help the Aztecs as they try to regain their form from last month.
The No. 24 Aztecs try to avenge that defeat Saturday night and win their ninth in a row at home over Colorado State, which could earn a critical victory as it looks to bolster its NCAA tournament resume.
Franklin, held out of last Saturday's 58-56 loss at Air Force with a sprained ankle, returned to score 12 points - including the first five of overtime - as San Diego State defeated Wyoming 67-58 on Wednesday to snap a three-game skid.
Senior Garrett Green also came up big, scoring a game-high 14 points and showing no ill effects from a sprained ankle suffered against the Falcons. That helped the Aztecs (21-6, 7-4 Mountain West) avoid what would have been their first four-game losing streak since February 2005.
"What those two guys are doing really exemplifies how mentally and physically tough these guys are by playing through ankle injuries, just being tough and gutting it out," senior forward Tim Shelton said.
San Diego State outrebounded the Cowboys 33-23 and held them to three points in the extra period, moving closer to securing an NCAA berth.
"I think when you're 27 games into your season you say, 'Tape it up, gut it up, find a way to win,'" Fisher said. "It doesn't have to be anything other than the way it was (Wednesday) I think if you win a game or two, then sometimes you start to have a little bit better flow to how you play.
" ... We have fought and fought and fought and not given up. And I like the way we have fought."
Fisher's team had won 11 in a row going into a Jan. 28 matchup at Colorado State, but San Diego State shot a season low-tying 31.3 percent from the field and allowed the Rams to shoot 49.0 in a 77-60 loss.
It was Colorado State's first home win over a ranked team in more than eight years, and led to fans rushing the floor afterward.
Franklin proved to be the lone bright spot for the Aztecs, scoring 24 points to go with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.
San Diego State will try for a split of the season series at Viejas Arena, where it's outscored the Rams by an average of 11.5 points in winning eight consecutive meetings.
Colorado State (17-9, 6-5), however, carries plenty of momentum into the weekend after knocking off 18th-ranked New Mexico 71-63 on Tuesday - a win that helped San Diego State, which is one game behind the Lobos with three to play. With forward Will Bell sidelined due to a swollen left knee, coach Tim Miles started reserve Dwight Smith along with Kaipo Sabas, giving the Rams a four-guard lineup.
That smaller unit helped Colorado State force 17 turnovers and go 5 of 11 from 3-point range.
"I really like our guards," Miles told the school's official website. "They know they can put it on the deck, create for somebody else, move it, move it, move it, we're going to get a better shot later. I thought that we did that a lot (Tuesday)."
In addition to trying to slow down the Rams' backcourt, San Diego State could have its hands full with forward Pierce Hornung, who recorded 13 points, 15 boards and four steals versus New Mexico. He had eight points and 11 rebounds Jan. 28.
Colorado State has dropped eight straight on the road in conference play, including five this season by an average of 15.2 points. Since joining the Mountain West in 1999-00, the Rams have been outscored by 17.0 points per game in going 0-11 against Top 25 foes on the road.
Bell, who scored 17 points versus the Aztecs last month, is uncertain for this contest.