Breakdown: Arizona vs. New Mexico State

Arizona will play its first game as the top-ranked team in the nation on Wednesday night. Read on for a complete positional breakdown for the game, statistics between the two teams, and a score prediction.



New Mexico State at Arizona
Dec. 11 at 7 pm
TV: Pac-12 Network
McKale Center

ARIZONA

NMSU
Overall Record 9-0 (1.000) 7-4 (.636)
Location Record 6-0 (1.000) at home 2-2 (.500) on the road
Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank) 77.8(89) 59.1(9) 77.3(100) 70.6(166)
Rebound Margin/G: RM(Rank) 14.1(2) 4.9(71)
Steals/G:
S(Rank)
5.0(284) 4.6(311)
Assists/G: A(Rank)
15.9(40) 12.4(214)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank) 50.0(22) 47.7(105)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank) 37.6(70) 33.3(186)
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG%(Rank) 36.8(9) 41.4(105)
Ranking: Coaches' Poll #1 N/A
Ranking:
AP Poll
#1 N/A

RPI

12 (.6643) 105 (.5425)
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. K.C Ross-Miller (6-1, 175, Jr.)

The good news for Ross-Miller is that his shooting percentage is up five percent from last season. The bad news is that it is still under 40 percent. Against decent competition, Ross-Miller has not done anything remarkable and this is once again going to be a tough one for him. He will have difficulty staying in front of McConnell and is not a good enough shooter to give Arizona any surprise fits.

Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. Daniel Mullings (6-2, 170, Jr.)

Mullings is impressive in that he puts up a lot of shots, but hits them at a nearly 50 percent rate and does not shoot a lot of threes. Johnson is definitely going to have his hands full defensively because at the very least, Mullings is going to make him work. Arizona likely has the better player here, but it would not be a surprise to see both finish with similar stats. If Mullings does not have a good game, New Mexico State has no chance of winning.

Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. D.K. Eldridge (6-2, 180, Jr.)

New Mexico State's three guard lineup pretty much insures that it is going to go to a zone defense and this matchup is a big reason why. Gordon struggled against UNLV, but you get the feeling he is due for a breakout game and this seems like as good of an opportunity as any. Eldridge is going to take nearly half of his shots from three, so Gordon needs to be careful on the screens, but he is still obviously the better player.

Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PF: Brandon Ashley (6-8, 230, So.) vs. Tshilidzi Nephawe (6-10, 268, Jr.)

The Aggies go a bit unconventional here, as they start two centers. Nephawe is a huge body that is going to give a good amount of teams trouble. He averages about ten points and seven rebounds per game, but struggles against opponents that can match him in size and force him to guard. Ashley is not as big as Nephawe, but he is definitely going to make him guard him and should be able to be effective on both sides of the ball. The main issue here is whether or not Ashley can stay out of foul trouble long enough to play better than Nephawe.

Center

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 235, So.) vs. Sim Bhullar (7-5, 360, So.)

Bhullar is going to surprise people with how skilled he actually is, but Tarczewski is a player that should be able to match up with him physically. You would assume a guy with Bhullar's size would average more than seven rebounds per game, but his lack of speed really holds him back, especially in a transition game. Arizona is going to want to get out and run and it should limit Bhullar's numbers.

Bench

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Bench: The Aggies go with an eight man rotation, but there is really only seven effective players there. Renaldo Dixon is a 6-10 forward is a solid player that has more of a shooting touch than the other bigs on the roster and is likely good for about 20 minutes or so. Kevin Aronis will be the first guard off the bench and averages six points per game, taking 52 of his 61 shots from behind the arc. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the best player off the bench and Gabe York is likely as good as Aronis, so we are giving Arizona the advantage here.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Menzies is a decent coach, taking New Mexico State to the second round of the tournament last season and generally doing pretty well. However, Miller has Arizona played solid ball and the top team in the country, so it makes sense that he gets the advantage here.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
83 68
Prediction: When you get a game that comes off an emotional victory and is before a nationally televised game against a ranked team, it is usually a perfect spot for a trap game. However, NMSU is not good enough for Arizona to fall into that trap and Miller has done a pretty good job of avoiding letdowns while the coach of Arizona. It would not shock us if the Wildcats started slow, but there is too much talent there and our guess is that NMSU sees plenty of foul trouble.


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