Game 3: No. 6 Arizona Wildcats (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. San Diego State (1-0, 0-0 Mountain West)
Date/Time/Location: Thursday, Nov. 14 at 8:05 p.m. (MST) at Viejas Arena (12,414 capacity) in San Diego, Cali.
Television: CBS Sports Network
Radio: Mighty 1090, 105.7 The Walrus
Game Notes: Arizona, San Diego State
Meet the Coaches
Arizona’s Sean Miller enters his fifth year as head coach of the Wildcats after five seasons at Xavier (2004-2009). Over the course of his 10 seasons as a head coach, Miller possesses a 217-90 (.706) record including a 97-43 (.691) record at Arizona. His 96 wins were more than any other current Pac-12 head coach or Arizona head coach had in their first four seasons with their team. He has led his teams to four conference championships (2007-2009, 2011), two Sweet Sixteens (2009, 2013) and two Elite Eights (2008, 2011). Before taking over as head coach for the Musketeers, he served as assistant coach for Wisconsin (1992-1993), Miami (Ohio) (1993-1995) and Pittsburgh (1995-1996) and was the associate head coach at N.C. State (1996-2001) and Xavier (2001-2004). He attended Pittsburgh from 1987-1991 and his .885 career free throw percentage currently ranks 10th all-time in NCAA Division I. He was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Hall of Fame in June 2012.
San Diego State’s Steve Fisher enters his 15th season as the head coach of the Aztecs, after a stint as head coach at Michigan from 1989-1997. Over the course of his 24 seasons as a head coach, he has a 465-248 (.652) record, including 282-168 at San Diego State. During the ‘Fisher Era’, as fans call it, he has led the Aztecs to 10 postseason appearances, including four-straight NCAA appearances. Fisher has also led San Diego State to three conference regular season championships and four conference tournament championships. In 2010-2011, San Diego State spent nearly the entire season in the top-10 and won their first NCAA Tournament games in program history en route to a spot in the Sweet 16. While at Michigan, Fisher coached the “Fab Five,” which are one of the most famous group of players in modern NCAA history. Before becoming a head coach, Fisher was assistant coach at Western Michigan (1979-1982) and Michigan (1982-1989). He played collegiately for two years at Illinois State University.
Arizona enters their first road game 2-0 after wins over Cal Poly (73-62) and Long Beach State (91-57).
The Wildcats employ an 8-man rotation, which includes a starting lineup of junior guards Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell, sophomore forward Brandon Ashley, freshman forward Aaron Gordon and sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski. In his first two career games, Gordon is averaging 13.5 points and 10.0 rebounds. He recorded double-doubles in both contests. Ashley (13.5), Johnson (12.5) and Tarczewski (10.0) are also averaging double figures in points.
Sophomore guard Gabe York, who only played 87 minutes last season, has emerged as the Wildcats’ best outside shooter. He’s scored in double figures in both games and has hit 5-of-11 shots from 3-point range. Freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has also been productive, averaging 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 blocks in the two games. Senior guard Jordin Mayes will be McConnell’s backup.
Through two games, the Wildcats have shot 58 percent from the field as a team, including 43 percent from beyond the ark. However, they’ve struggled at the line, making only 60 percent of their free throws.
Arizona also has played strong defense, as they’ve recorded 10 steals and 12 blocks, while holding their opponents to 32 percent shooting.
Scouting San Diego State
The Aztecs will play a top-10 team at home for the first time since 2011. They opened the season with a 77-41 win over UC Riverside on Friday.
Twelve players played for the Aztecs and all 12 scored. Senior point guard Xavier Thames led the way with 15 points and four steals in 21 minutes. Senior forward Josh Davis, who was named the Mountain West preseason newcomer of the year, added 11 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Sophomore forward Winston Shepard rounded out the Aztec trio in double figures with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists.
San Diego State’s defense limited the Highlanders to 30.8 percent field goal shooting (16-for-52) and forced 21 turnovers. They also held UC Riverside to just 13 first half points, which eventually led to 43 point second-half advantage. It was the 162nd time in the ‘Fisher era’ that the Aztecs have held an opponent under 40 percent field-goal shooting – they are 144-18 in those games.
Through Sunday’s games, San Diego State was the only team in the country to hold an opponent to 16 or fewer field goals, one or fewer 3-point shots and force at least 21 turnovers in a single game.
San Diego State has 10 victories over ranked opponents since January 2010. Arizona’s visited marks the highest-ranked opponent that’s visited San Diego since No. 1 Arizona visited in 2002. The Aztecs have also won three straight home games against AP Top-25 teams.
Arizona vs. San Diego State Series History
Thursday’s game marks the 29th meeting between the Wildcats and Aztecs, with Arizona holding a 21-7 series advantage. The teams are playing for the third straight seasons, seventh time in eight seasons and ninth time since 2003. San Diego State has won two of the last three games, including a 63-46 victory the last time Arizona visited Viejas Arena on Dec. 12, 2009. Arizona won last season’s meeting 68-67 in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Nick Johnson blocked Chase Tapley‘s last second layup to seal the victory.
Topics: 2013-2014 Basketball Game Previews, Aaron Gordon, Arizona Wildcats, Brandon Ashley, Chase Tapley, Follow, Gabe York, Index, Jordin Mayes, Josh Davis, Kaleb Tarczewski, Nic Wise, Nick Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, San Diego State Aztecs, Sean Miller, Steve Fisher, T.J. McConnell, Winston Shepard, Xavier Thames