Breakdown: Arizona vs. San Diego State

Arizona takes to the road for the first time this season on Thursday when it takes on San Diego State. Read on for a complete positional breakdown, including a score prediction.

San Diego State at Arizona
Nov. 14 at 8:00 pm
TV: CBS Sports Network
Viejas Arena


Point Guard

PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. Xavier Thames (6-3, 195, Sr.)p> McConnell and Thames are not similar at all and a lot of that has to do with efficiency. Last season, Thames shot 35 percent from the field and the best he has shot in one season is 41 percent. He is not a big assist guy and if he scores a decent amount of points, a lot of it usually has to do with the number of shots he takes. Thames is good defensively, but McConnell has shown this season that he does not yet feel the need to shoot a lot. Arizona's point guard should be able to have the advantage here for a handful of reasons.
Shooting Guard

SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. Winston Shepard (6-8, 205, So.)

Shepard and Johnson both do a little bit of everything, although Johnson is a better shooter. The interesting aspect of this matchup is that Shepard really is not a two by any means on offense, but he does have the ability to play there defensively. Johnson's offensive game is not likely to be very successful, but he should be able to defend Shepard just fine while scoring in transition. It would not be a surprise at all to see Shepard give Johnson some fits, but Johnson is still the overall better player.

Small Forward

SF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. J.J. O'Brien (6-7, 220, Jr.)

O'Brien actually is not a bad player, but this is going to be a tough matchup for him. Last season, he finished with ten points that were offset by five turnovers and four fouls in only 23 minutes. Gordon will likely be his same aggressive self and it would not be a surprise to see O'Brien get into some foul trouble because of it. Arizona's star freshman has two double-doubles in as many games and although rebounding could be harder to come by on Thursday, he should be able to score.

Power Forward

PF: Brandon Ashley (6-8, 230, So.) vs. Josh Davis (6-8, 215, Sr.)

This is going to be a fun one and a matchup that many NBA scouts are going to have a close eye on. Davis is probably one of the best players not many people have heard of, as evidenced by his averages of 17 and 10 last season. He is athletic, tough around the basket, and can put the ball on the ground. Ashley's first two games have been strong, but he has struggled some with fouls and that could be a concern against a player like Davis. Still, there are two players that are pretty close in skill level and it should be fun to watch.


C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 235, So.) vs. Skylar Spencer (6-10, 235, So.)

If the Tarczewski that played against Long Beach State shows up, Arizona deserves the nod here. Spencer is likely not going to take a lot of shots, but is extremely dangerous defensively due to his ability to block shots. Tarczewski is stronger and needs to use that to his advantage, but his production is also a little unpredictable. It would not surprise us to see this matchup as a wash, but Tarczewski should be able to hold his own defensively and have a decent day on offense as well.



SDSU played plenty of guys in the opener because the game was not close, but the ideal rotation would be seven or eight. Arizona will likely see plenty of 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman Matt Shrigley, who is going to come in and start shooting right away. In addition, Dakarai Allen is a familiar face that Arizona fans are going to get to see Thursday night. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Gabe York should be able to counter that and the Wildcats can go deeper than that if they want to.


Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Steve Fisher

Fisher deserves a ton of credit for what he did at Michigan and what he is doing at San Diego State. Somehow, he is probably a bit underappreciated, despite having plenty of success. His accolades speak for themselves, but we doubt this game comes down to coaching. Miller knows what he is doing with his team and Fisher knows what he is doing with his, so this is two good coaches and teams going at it.


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Prediction: This is going to be a fun game. San Diego has the size to counter Arizona, but the players are not necessarily as skilled. We also have no idea how the freshmen will respond to being in a road environment that will rival any they see all season. SDSU is going to make Arizona defend and the Aztecs are strong on defense as well. The difference here is likely to be overall scoring ability, especially shooting. The guess is that the majority of this game is close until Arizona pulls away at the end.

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