Saturday, December 7th
The Wildcats and Aztecs have not met since 1986 when Arizona won 110-78 at the Sports Arena. Arizona leads the series 15-5.
Last Time Out:
Arizona played a sloppy game but beat Saint Louis 91-58. San Diego State beat UC San Diego 87-57 with 16 three pointers.
It is a homecoming for Luke Walton. Walton returns to his hometown to play the team his brother plays for. Chris is redshirting and won't play, but the entire Walton clan will be in the stands. Chris spent part of the summer in Tucson playing pick-up with the Cats, so you can bet he is giving his teammates some tips and pointers.
Former Wildcat Travis Hanour is now an Aztec, but like Chris Walton, the swingman won't face his former teammates. Hanour will not be eligible until next week.
Hassan Adams has ties to the Aztecs as well. SDSU's Tony Bland is from the same high school and area of Los Angeles as Adams. The two ran into each other over the summer and neighborhood bragging rights are on the line. Adams' high school rival Evan Burns has been cleared to play and will make his college debut against the Wildcats.
Burns and Adams squared off against each other often, but Burns' Fairfax High team came up short in most outings. Adams was the California Player of the Year, Burns was second in the voting. The rivalry continues at the college level.
Burns' arrival is key for the Aztecs. The Aztecs would love to go up-tempo, but coming into the game they only had seven players who averaged double-figures in minutes. Burns give them a 6-8 forward who has a ton of skill. Burns can shoot and is good on the glass. He has a good handle and should be a great help in breaking the press. Burns originally signed with UCLA, but grades prevented him from becoming a Bruin. He enrolled at SDSU instead and the NCAA cleared him in time to face the Cats.
Bland is the Aztecs' go-to guy. The 6-5 senior can do a little bit of every thing. He is a solid ball handler who can score. He will be vital against the press. Expect Bland to attack the basket in an attempt to get to the line. Bland is the type of player who gave Arizona fits last year and will give Adams and Andre Iguodala a chance to strut their stuff on the defensive end.
Deandre Moore is the team's point guard and he is vital to the success of the Aztecs. Moore is a speedy player who gets his teammates involved. Moore lead the team with 6.25 assists per game and adds 10.8 ppg.
Mike Mackell and Aerick Sanders give the Aztecs a decent sized front line. Mackell goes 6-9, 250 and is the team's leading scorer. Sanders is great on the boards, averaging 8.2 a game. Sanders is also a very good shot blocker and the Wildcat guards will need to be careful coming into the lane.
Steve Sir gives the Aztecs another tall perimeter player. The 6-6 freshman has started every game and has chipped in 13.5 points a game. Sir may be the team's best three-point shooter. He's shooting 48.4%, and has connected on nine of his last 16 attempts.
The Wildcats have blown out every opponent, but still have some work to do. The Cats have yet to be challenged but are trying to fit everyone in. Salim Stoudamire and Walton are both recovering from ankle injuries and have yet to be at 100%. To compound the problems, Stoudamire suffered a slight hip flexor in Wednesday's practive. Lute Olson is still playing with line-ups, trying to find out who plays best with whom. The Wildcats also need a better effort on the defensive boards.
OUTLOOK: The Aztecs like to run, but the Cats are better at it than they are. The Cats are deeper and more talented. The Aztecs will be helped with the addition of Burns and Chris Manker, who will also be eligible next week after transfrerring from Oregon State. Thus, SDSU is still a month away from being a force. Hanour will give them another athletic wing and by the time this team gels they could be a threat in March. That being said, the Aztecs are not ready to contend with the Wildcats. It should be close for a while, but the Cats have too much depth and should pull away in the second half.