This matchup pits two similar players against each other because you don't really know what type of each player is going to show up. For instance, Lyons was awful against East Tennessee State, but came up big against Miami. Thames turned the ball over five times against Indiana State, but only had one turnover in each of his two previous games. Lyons is probably a better offensive player and has a higher ceiling here, as Thames is only shooting 37 percent from the field. However, Arizona needs the Lyons that showed up against Miami or this won't be an advantage for the Wildcats.
SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, So.) vs. Chase Tapley (6-3, 195, Sr.)
One game after facing Durand Scott, Johnson will have to guard one of the better scorers in the country. Tapley scored 33 points on 13-19 shooting against San Francisco, but followed it up with 13 points against Indiana State. A closer look reveals that Tapley scored eight points against Syracuse and nine against UCLA, his two toughest opponents of the season. Still, Tapley is a player that thrives off early confidence and a few jumpers can go a long way. Defensively, he and Johnson are similar as Tapley may be the best defender the Aztecs have. Johnson is not going to dominate this game offensively, but the potential of Tapley having a big game offensively makes this an even matchup. If it goes in the favor of either player, it could mean the difference in the game.
SF: Solomon Hill (6-7, 220, Sr.) vs. Jamaal Franklin (6-5, 205, Jr.)
Franklin's game is not pretty, but it is definitely effective. He is considered to be one of the best players in the country, averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field. Franklin is definitely going to get his points and if he does not, SDSU probably gets blown out. The question is how Franklin will score and at what percentage. Against UCLA, Franklin scored 28 points, but 7 of his 9 missed shots were from three. Against Indiana State, Franklin scored 19 and only took three three-pointers. He has scored in double digits each game and Hill is going to have his work cut out for him, especially on the glass. Hill's role for Arizona is different, but it is still difficult to give him any kind of advantage with the way that Franklin can score.
Advantage: San Diego State
PF: Brandon Ashley (6-8, 235, Fr.) vs. J.J. O'Brien (6-7, 225, So.)
O'Brien received a decent amount of attention after transferring to SDSU from Utah, but he has not done much this season. O'Brien is averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds and has scored in double-digits twice. In terms of size, this is probably a good matchup for him. However, O'Brien should not be able to keep up with Ashley if he plays to his potential. The issue with Ashley is his inconsistency and although he has struggled defensively, it should not hurt him too much in this game. Ashley is the better player with better potential and he needs to take advantage of it in order to maximize Arizona's chances.
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 255, Fr.) vs. Deshawn Stephens (6-8, 225, Sr.)
Against Miami, Tarczewski was able to take advantage of the fact that he was the biggest and strongest guy on the court. It should be much of the same on Tuesday and, once again, Tarczewski is going to have to take advantage of it. Stephens is not a bad player by any means, but he is giving up nearly four inches and 30 pounds to Tarczewski. Stephens can get into foul trouble when the opposition is physical and it would not be a surprise to see Arizona try to work through Tarczewski early. In our minds, the size advantage is too much and Stephens is going to have his work cut out for him.
Bench: This is one of the few times this season when Arizona is going to be pretty even with the opposing bench. Kevin Parrom is probably the best player off the bench for either team and Arizona is able to use Grant Jerrett and his size, which should be a big advantage here. However, the Aztecs can match the size of Jerrett with freshman Skylar Spencer and will also bring James Rahon off the bench as well. Rahon is averaging seven points per game and 46 of his 79 attempts are from behind the arc, where he is shooting 32 percent. Although those numbers seem low, Rahon has the potential to get going from three. In addition, SDSU will bring Winston Shepard off the bench and he will probably get 10-15 minutes. If either team has a big advantage here, it probably has one in the game as well.
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Steve Fisher
In a time in which young coaches have entered and moved up the ranks, Fisher has remained consistent. Miller recently called SDSU the best program in the west in the past few years and Fisher is the head of that program. He has put together fantastic teams and the reality is that this game likely will not be won or lost on coaching because both are very good at what they do.
Prediction: At first glance, this seems to be an easy choice because Arizona has such a size advantage. However, SDSU is very well coached and executes its game plan well. The matchup between Johnson and Tapley is a big one because most expect it to be even. In addition, Hill is going to have his hands full with Franklin and either he or Tapley have the ability to go off. However, we just can't get past the size differential here. Ashley is due for a solid game after having a bad one against Miami and this is the type of contest where Lyons succeeds as well. It is going to be tough and Arizona will have to match SDSU's intensity, but the Wildcats will continue their winning streak.
Arizona 76, San Diego State 71