Breakdown: Arizona vs. San Diego State

Arizona will get a rematch with San Diego State in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday. Read on for a complete positional breakdown, a score prediction, and more.

Arizona vs. San Diego State
Mar. 27 at 7:17 pm
Honda Center


Overall Record 32-4 (.889) 31-4 (.886)
Location Record 6-1 (.857) on a neutral court

0-0 (0-0) at the Honda Center

6-1 (.757) on a neutral court

1-0 (1.000) at the Honda Center

Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank) 73.2 (98) 58.3 (5) 70.5 (35) 56.6 (59)
Rebound Margin/G: RM(Rank) 7.6 (6) 5 (28)
6.1 (170) 7.8 (22)
Assists/G: A(Rank)
15.3 (28) 10.1 (325)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank) 47.1 (37) 43.6 (208)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank) 36.1 (89) 36 (95)
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG%(Rank) 38 (5) 38.3 (8)
Ranking: Coaches' Poll #5 #11
AP Poll
#4 #13


2 (.6664) 17 (.6170)
Point Guard

PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. Xavier Thames (6-3, 195, Sr.)

Thames is the heart and soul of this SDSU team and really the only reason why the Aztecs have a chance against the majority of the teams they face. Thames only shoots 41 percent, but it is much more than that. He makes the guys around him better, demands the defensive attention of his opponent, and is a good defender. McConnell is similar to Thames in that he makes everything go, but he is not as good offensively. Frankly, Arizona does not need him to be. If McConnell can force Thames into a bad shooting percentage or even lower his point total, Arizona is in great shape.

Shooting Guard

SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. J.J. O'Brien (6-7, 220, Jr.)

With the way O'Brien played in the first meeting, we would expect Johnson to guard him this time out. O'Brien may be the second biggest offensive threat among the starters and although there is a height advantage, Arizona is going to likely switch a lot and Johnson will try to deny him the ball. We're assuming O'Brien will try to get Johnson in the post, but Utah's Jordan Loveridge did the same thing and it did not work. What people seem to be forgetting is that O'Brien is going to have to guard Johnson as well and that is just not going to happen. Even if SDSU puts Shepard on him, there is going to be a mismatch at the two and three.

Small Forward

SF: Gabe York ( 6-3, 180, So.) vs. Winston Shepard (6-8, 205, So.)

To be blunt, Shepard has been bad in the tournament. He only played 15 minutes against North Dakota State and Dwayne Polee probably deserves to be starting over him at this point. He can't shoot, which is why Arizona is fine with York guarding him. Shepard isn't really aggressive to the basket and even if he chooses to be, is not a good finisher. Shepard can guard York, but it will be interesting to see if York is more aggressive against a player he is definitely quicker than. Shepard is probably the better player earlier in the season, but definitely not with how he is playing as of late.

Power Forward

PF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. Josh Davis (6-8, 215, Sr.)

Gordon has played his best basketball of the season in the first two games of the tournament and this is a good matchup for him. Davis is very good on the glass and definitely consistent there as well, but he tends to struggle guarding guys that are his size and have athleticism. That's where Gordon comes in. He had success in the first meeting, especially coming off screens and on the glass. Arizona will likely do something similar with him in this meeting as well. Davis is not a huge offensive threat, but Gordon has to keep him off the glass. Weber State's Joel Bolomboy hurt Arizona badly in the second round and Arizona can't afford to have Davis do the same thing.


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

Spencer is not a scorer by any means, but he is a very good defender with the necessary length to disrupt a lot of what Arizona wants to do in the paint. Tarczewski somewhat struggled with Spencer in the first meeting and Spencer did not do much himself. Tarczewski is much stronger and there is really no reason why he should not be able to put together a solid overall game. Spencer is probably the better defender, but Tarczewski is likely to impact the game in more ways.


Bench: The emergence of Polee has been huge for San Diego State and is coming at the perfect time. In fact, Steve Fisher called him SDSU's sixth starter. Sound familiar? As well as Polee has played, he is still no better than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Beyond that, Matt Shrigley and Elliott Pitts are probably going to have similar impacts on this game, although Shrigley has more potential. Hollis-Jefferson is better than Polee, so Arizona gets the slight advantage.


Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Steve Fisher

Steve Fisher is a legend in the coaching profession and what he has done with San Diego State is extremely impressive. If you look at each coach's resume, Fisher gets the advantage. However, we just don't think this game really comes down to coaching. Both coaches will have their teams prepared and their own game plans, but it is going to be up to the players to execute.


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Prediction: When this matchup was finalized, most people were quick to pick Arizona and it makes sense. The Wildcats have a slightly better defense, but the real story is that the Aztecs are just bad on offense. The key here is that Arizona is going to need to keep SDSU off the glass, Thames in control, and not let a second or third guy go off on offense. We think Arizona can do it and it will lead to a win, but we don't buy the belief that it will be an easy one.

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