No. 6 Arizona took on San Diego State last night at Viejas Arena in San Diego. The Arizona Wildcats controlled the pace for most of the game, and worked a 39-28 rebounding advantage to a 69-60 victory.
Viejas Arena is known as hostile territory to visiting opponents. The crowd seemed to be a factor as the Aztecs came to within four points of the Wildcats with 1:52 left. In the next possession, Arizona called a timeout after grabbing an offensive rebound. Arizona guard T.J. McConnell then inbounded the ball to Aaron Gordon, who dunked McConnell’s alley-oop pass, putting the Wildcats up 64-58. After the dramatic dunk, the Wildcats iced the game hitting five of six free throws in the final minute.
A few game notes: Arizona looked like a national championship contender on Thursday night. Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com is calling Zona’s freshman forward Aaron Gordon one of the best in the country. Gordon had 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks against San Diego State. Other players contributing to Arizona’s 3-0 start are guards Nick Johnson and T.J McConnell. Johnson scored a game-high 23 points and McConnell had six assists. In addition, Zona’s center Kaleb Tarczewski came up big with six rebounds and two blocks. Tarczewski creates a mismatch for teams lacking a true center like San Diego State.
It is difficult to know how good San Diego State will be at this point in the season. State has two great scoring options in senior guard Xavier Thames and junior forward J.J. O’Brien who both scored 19 points against Arizona. State also has a good third scoring option in forward Winston Shepard who finished with 12 points. However, the Aztecs lack a point guard who can feed the scorers the ball. On the defensive side, they will need to work on rebounding, especially against opponents with a traditional center.