Keys to Victory: A&M - Arizona

Texas A&M (5-1) faces its toughest test of the year so far when Arizona (5-1) comes to Reed Arena for the Big 12 - Pac 10 challenge. While still early in the season, this contest could have a big impact down the road as both teams will be vying for a spot in the Big Dance. Websider brings you the 5 keys to victory for Texas A&M on Friday.

1. Get Jordan Hill in foul trouble

This 6'10" Junior is one rebound shy of a double-double in every game the Wildcat's have played so far this year. He is second on the team with 17 points per game, and is averaging an impressive 13 rebounds through their 6 contests. He plays hard and aggressive, but as a result has shown a propensity to get into early foul trouble at times during the year.

A&M must show a commitment early to letting the post men get a chance at Hill on the offensive side of the court. If Hill is forced to sit early on, the Wildcats will lose many opportunities for second chance boards, as Hill was averaging 5 times as many offensive rebounds more than his closest teammate.

2. Execute the motion offense

Head Coach Mark Turgeon knows his team is capable of running the offense. He's seen it countless times in practice. But so far this season A&M has struggled to consistently perform the motion offense. Friday's game against Arizona provides an excellent opportunity for this offense to get back on track.

Arizona has been hurt mainly with teams who were able to pass the ball effectively, and their help defense has been sketchy at best. If the Aggies can be patient, smart, efficient passes could open up Josh Carter on the wing against Zona's star, Chase Budinger, who is not known for his defense. Additionally, if they can swing the ball to an open post man, this could help tack on fouls to Hill, which could help accomplish key #1.

3. Contain Budinger

The star of the Wildcat's "Big 3" skipped on the draft last year and has returned to lead his team for his junior season. He is currently averaging 21 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, and has shot 65.4 percent from beyond the arc. He is excellent at both creating off of the dribble and catching and shooting, and will be the most explosive offensive player on the court.

With Derrick Roland likely out for Friday's contest, Josh Carter will likely defend Budinger for most of the game. Carter has played impressive defense over the first 6 games, and must continue to do so for this game. If Carter must come out, Nathan Walkup will likely be the man to attempt to guard Budinger, although Walkup will struggle to keep up with his quickness.

4. Lock down the perimeter

With shooting guard Zane Johnson likely making the start in place of suspended player Garland Judkins, the perimeter trio of Johnson, Budinger, and point guard Nic Wise is shooting 46%, 65%, and 40% respectively from behind the arc.

With Carter on Budinger, look for Dash Harris to be employed on Nic Wise while Sloan shifts over to contain Johnson. With Dash's quickness, he may be able to frustrate the Texas native into taking some ill-advised shots, and not allowing Wise to drive to find the open man. If the Aggies force the Wildcats to go inside for the majority of their points, they should be in good shape to win the game.

5. Limit turnovers

While the A&M team may have taken a step forward defensively in these past few weeks, it is all for naught if the offense continues to allow turnovers at its current rate. In the South Padre Invitational, Texas A&M allowed 21 points off of turnovers against Tulsa, and 20 more against Kent State, which amounts to over 30% of the opposing team's points coming off of a steal.

If Dash Harris is going to see significant minutes due to his defensive prowess, he must do a better job protecting the ball than he has the past two games. If he struggles, B.J. Holmes will step in at the two guard, although the Aggies then give up some on the defensive end. With Arizona already a potent offensive team, A&M must make them earn every point to walk out of Reed with a win.




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