Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
San Diego State (7-1) has been a defensive minded team so far this season. Coach Steve Fisher’s team has held seven of eight opponents to 59 points including three opponents to 47 points or less. Coach Fisher has been pleased with the defense and pressure thus far, but sometimes the best information comes from opposing coaches and San Diego coach Bill Grier had this to say after losing to SDSU Saturday, “They get run-outs, they get threes in transition and they get the crowd into it. I thought that was the difference in the game. They pressure you very well. They help each other and make it very difficult for you to get clear shots. I was very impressed with what I saw of (SDSU) on film and just as impressed in person”.
Lorenzo Wade, a top performer for SDSU last season, has not played yet this year but had felony burglary charges against him dropped on Thursday. Before the Saturday game, coach Fisher said he would take a cautious approach in bringing Wade back, “When we feel he's ready to come in and play, it will probably be for fewer minutes rather than more,” Fisher said. “Even though we've not changed a lot with our schemes, there are some subtle things that we're doing differently and we have guys who are used to working with one another. When you have a good thing going, you always have a concern (about) what an addition or a subtraction will mean to your chemistry”. In the absence of Wade the Aztecs have been led in scoring by Kyle Spain at over 17ppg. Sophomores Billy White and DJ Gay are each chipping-in 8 ppg.
Arizona (5-2) has defeated the teams they should beat, but did lose to their two toughest opponents Texas A&M and UAB. The Wildcats are an efficient offensive team that plays at a slower pace. However, they are not playing strong enough on the defensive end right now, and did not play with enough discipline in a close defeat to Texas A&M according to coach Russ Pennell. Forward Chase Budinger is playing like a projected top performer with over 20ppg, 6rpg and over 60% shooting from the field and the arch. Budinger can play inside or outside and is second on the team in assists (3.6). The heavy work is done by big forward Jordan Hill who averages a double/double (17ppg/12rpg). Point guard Nic Wise sets the tone for Arizona with excellent defense and precision passing with over five assists per game to go along with 13ppg.
Both of these teams could find themselves on the bubble come NCAA tournament time so this is a pretty big early season game. As noted, SDSU is playing with strong team chemistry and that is key in a close game, especially on the road. The return of Lorenzo Wade looks likely, and his scoring and rebounding strength will be important while battling Hill and Budinger inside. This game should be played at a slower pace and in the half court, and both teams have been efficient on the offensive end.. Arizona may look appealing on their home floor and should be motivated following their recent loss to Texas A&M. But I rate San Diego State slightly better with a stronger defensive presence and more cohesive team right now. Mild road upset.
Winner: San Diego State Margin 2-6 points
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.