A Player's Program: San Diego State (Sweet 16 preview) - Tucson News Now

A Player's Program: San Diego State (Sweet 16 preview)

  • SportsMore>>

  • Astros reach World Series, top Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 of ALCS

    Astros reach World Series, top Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 of ALCS

    Saturday, October 21 2017 11:44 PM EDT2017-10-22 03:44:02 GMT
    Sunday, October 22 2017 2:57 PM EDT2017-10-22 18:57:01 GMT

    Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined for a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 of the AL...

    Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined for a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

  • Perfect last-second decision for ALCS MVP Verlander, Astros

    Perfect last-second decision for ALCS MVP Verlander, Astros

    Saturday, October 21 2017 11:53 PM EDT2017-10-22 03:53:15 GMT
    Sunday, October 22 2017 2:55 PM EDT2017-10-22 18:55:31 GMT
    That last-second decision by ALCS MVP Justin Verlander has turned out perfectly for the Houston Astros.
    That last-second decision by ALCS MVP Justin Verlander has turned out perfectly for the Houston Astros.
  • Griffin, Beverley lead Clippers in rout over Suns

    Griffin, Beverley lead Clippers in rout over Suns

    Sunday, October 22 2017 1:21 AM EDT2017-10-22 05:21:59 GMT
    Blake Griffin had 29 points and eight rebounds, Patrick Beverley added 15 points and six steals, and the Los Angeles Clippers cruised to a 130-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
    Blake Griffin had 29 points and eight rebounds, Patrick Beverley added 15 points and six steals, and the Los Angeles Clippers cruised to a 130-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Arizona and San Diego State are back on familiar ground in the NCAA West Regional.

Three years ago, both failed to advance out of the Sweet 16. This time, one of them is going home early again.

Coach Steve Fisher has never watched the tape of the Aztecs' loss to Connecticut as a No. 2 seed in the 2011 regional semifinals at Honda Center. Fourth-seeded SDSU (31-4) is back in the regional for the first time since then.

"I still think we were better than Connecticut when they won the national championship," Fisher said Wednesday.

The top-seeded Wildcats (32-4) are playing in their third Sweet 16 in four years. Three years ago in Anaheim, they lost to UConn by two points in the regional final.

Thursday night's semifinal is a rematch between two teams that last played on Nov. 14, a lifetime ago in college basketball. The Wildcats won that road game 69-60 after leading by 14 points in the first half and then withstanding the Aztecs' late rally that cut the deficit to four.

"They guard, guard, guard, and they share the ball," Fisher said about Arizona. "That is a winning formula and they've got it."

Nick Johnson had 23 points and Aaron Gordon added 16 for the Wildcats, who went on to win 20 straight games and were ranked No. 1 for eight weeks. JJ O'Brien and Xavier Thames scored 19 points each for the Aztecs.

Of course, much more is at stake now.

Arizona wants to reach the Final Four, where coach Sean Miller has never been despite restoring the program to an elite level during his five years in the desert.

San Diego State's modest basketball resume includes never advancing beyond the Sweet 16; the school didn't even win an NCAA tournament game in its first 40 seasons playing Division I ball.

"They're out to prove that they're better than the outside world has given them credit," Miller said.

Defense will be at a premium in the matchup, with both teams holding opponents under 40 percent shooting. The Wildcats lead the nation in defensive efficiency, allowing 87.2 points per 100 possessions, while San Diego State allows 90.3 points.

"They're long, athletic just like us, so they like to press a little bit, create turnovers," Arizona star Nick Johnson said. "That's going to be the key to the game as far as us just doing what we do, be a defensive team. Take care of the ball when they try to pressure us."

The Aztecs are stingy beyond the arc, limiting opponents to 28 percent from 3-point range.

"We love playing defense," Thames said. "We know offense is going to come, but if we want to win and win big, we have to play defense."

The Aztecs have more than double the number of steals by their opponents.

"They get big turnovers with the way they play defense, which gives them additional offense," Miller said.

Offensively, both teams are dead even, allowing only 56.6 points per game.

Arizona is coming off a 23-point win over Gonzaga. The Wildcats scored 31 points off the Zags' 21 turnovers, including 15 steals. SDSU had a combined 17 turnovers in its first two NCAA wins.

"We just can't turn the ball over," Aztecs forward Winston Shepard said. "We watched some of the Gonzaga clips and they're a great team, but they turned the ball over too much."

Some personnel have changed since that November game.

This time, the Wildcats won't have starting forward Brandon Ashley, whose season ended in early February because of a foot injury.

The Aztecs will have forward Dwayne Polee and guard Aqeel Quinn, neither of whom played in November but are now integral members of the team.

"I'm going to go out, bring a lot of energy to the game, try to pump my teammates up, try to pump the crowd up," said Polee, his team's fourth-leading scorer.

Both schools figure to be well represented in the red-clad stands. San Diego State fans have a 90-mile trip up the freeway, while Arizona boosters have packed the West Regional in recent years.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • Wildcat BasketballUA BasketballMore>>

  • Ayton powers Blue to a 55-37 victory In Red-Blue game

    Ayton powers Blue to a 55-37 victory In Red-Blue game

    Saturday, October 21 2017 6:39 AM EDT2017-10-21 10:39:45 GMT

    Deandre Ayton scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds in front of 14,644 fans at McKale Center.

    Deandre Ayton scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds in front of 14,644 fans at McKale Center.

  • Red-Blue Game stirs excitement for upcoming UA basketball season

    Red-Blue Game stirs excitement for upcoming UA basketball season

    Saturday, October 21 2017 12:25 AM EDT2017-10-21 04:25:26 GMT
    (Source: Tucson News Now)(Source: Tucson News Now)

    A tumultuous off season for Arizona Wildcats Men's Basketball wasn't enough to keep the fans away as the 2017-2018 season officially started. 

    A tumultuous off season for Arizona Wildcats Men's Basketball wasn't enough to keep the fans away as the 2017-2018 season officially started. 

  • Whittaker is winning on the corner

    Whittaker is winning on the corner

    Friday, October 20 2017 6:45 AM EDT2017-10-20 10:45:52 GMT

    UA junior cornerback Jace Whittaker had perhaps the finest game of his career with two interceptions in Arizona’s win over UCLA.

    UA junior cornerback Jace Whittaker had perhaps the finest game of his career with two interceptions in Arizona’s win over UCLA.

Powered by Frankly