Thursday , Mar , 16 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Aztecs and Hoosiers meet in NCAA Tournament action

(Sports Network) – After a two-year hiatus, the sixth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers
return to the NCAA Tournament, as they take on the 11th-seeded San Diego State
Aztecs in the first round of the Oakland Region from the Huntsman Center in
Salt Lake City. The Hoosiers earned their spot in the “Big Dance” with an
at-large bid thanks to an 18-11 overall mark, which included several wins
over ranked opponents. Indiana last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in
2003, when it was knocked out in the second round by Pittsburgh. That was
one year after head coach Mike Davis, who is set to resign at the end of
the season, led the Hoosiers to the national title game where it lost to
Maryland (64-52). Indiana is 58-27 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and has
five titles to its credit. The team is 14-8 in first-round games, although
it is just 1-3 as a sixth seed.

San Diego State won both the Mountain West Conference regular season and
tournament championship. This is the Aztecs’ fifth all-time appearance in the
NCAA Tournament and its first since 2003. SDSU, which is riding a six-game win
streak, has never won a game in this event, going 0-4 all-time.

Tonight’s tilt marks the first-ever meeting between the Aztecs and Hoosiers
on the hardwood. The winner will square off against either third-seeded
Gonzaga or 14th-seeded Xavier in the second round on Saturday.

The Aztecs are about as sound a team as there is anywhere right now, as they
are netting 74.2 ppg behind 45.7 percent shooting from the floor and 39.0
percent from behind the arc. Brandon Heath, the 2005-06 MWC Player of the
Year, currently leads the team in scoring at 18.5 ppg and he is also dishing
out 3.4 apg. His three-point tries are falling at an impressive 41.1 percent
clip, and he even plays solid defense, registering 48 steals. Marcus Slaughter
has played a big part in the team’s success this season and is its primary
target in the paint, averaging a double-double with 16.6 ppg and a club-best
11.0 ppg. Mohamed Abukar has also gotten into the mix for SDSU, as he is
posting 13.8 ppg and 4.5 rpg.

If the Hoosiers are to make a run in the tourney they will need Marco
Killingsworth to continue his solid play. Killingsworth has been a force in
the paint all season long and leads Indiana in scoring (17.3 ppg) as well as
rebounding (8.0 rpg) and field goal percentage (.543). Robert Vaden has done a
little of everything for the Hoosiers and is turning in 13.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg and
a team-high 3.6 apg, while also shooting 40.9 percent from long range. He even
has a team-high 36 steals. Marshall Strickland adds 12.5 ppg and 2.5 apg, and
he is knocking down 47.3 percent of his three-point attempts.