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NCAA Basketball

San Diego State Aztecs Should Not Worry About Loss To Arizona Wildcats

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Xavier Thames

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA TODAY Sports

The Aztecs faced a talented and stellar opponent in the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night. Despite this loss against a top-10 foe, the Aztecs still have a shot to make a run into the top-25 polls. Led by junior forward JJ O’Brien, San Diego State sits atop the Mountain West Conference.

The Wildcats are a well-coached and hard-working team led by freshman Aaron Gordon. Gordon is averaging a double-double on the season and is taking the west coast of America by storm. O’Brien and company, however, did a great job in stopping the freshman phenom at his game on the offensive glass.

Coach Mike Fisher has gotten the best out of his squads as of late, and is heading into this season without a true scorer. O’Brien is the Aztecs’ best scorer, bar none, but he takes shots that are not part of his game. Shooting threes and hanging out on the perimeter are not his expertise, and that’s what he likes to do; he was 0-3 from beyond the three-point arc against Arizona.

Xavier Thames is their best shooter and facilitator, and his 15 points proved that. Thames is the outside to the inside-outside combo that the Aztecs bring out. He shot an awful percentage (5-15), but got to the line, where he finished 7-9.

However, Fisher should not worry about his Aztec’s performance on Thursday. The Wildcats are a good basketball team with athletes at every position, making them hard to guard. The Aztecs, however, held the Wildcats to 27 percent from three-point land. The San Diego State defense has head football coach Rocky Long jealous.

The Mountain West has its fair share of monsters in New Mexico, UNLV, Boise State and Utah State, but the Aztecs should be able to compete with the best of them. They might have lost to Arizona 60-69, but they have all eyes looking forward to their in-conference schedule against a deep and talented bunch of mid-major teams.

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NCAA Tournament Profile: San Diego State Aztecs

Record: 26-8

RPI: 26

BPI: 42

Conference: Mountain West Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 8 in the South

 

Another year in the Mountain West, and yet another year the San Diego State Aztecs were one of the conference’s top teams (tied for first place with the Boise State Broncos in the regular season conference standings).

The MW hasn’t been getting a whole lot of love this year, but this isn’t San Diego State’s first rodeo — not even close. In fact, most fans probably expect the Aztecs to make the tournament on a yearly basis now.

 

What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: Aqeel Quinn, Winston Shepard (11.1 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Winston Shepard (5.3 RPG)

Leading Passer: J.J. O’Brien (2.5 APG)

Bad Losses: Fresno State, Washington

Good Wins: Utah, BYU, Pittsburgh, Wyoming (twice), Colorado State (twice)

 

Needless to say, the Aztecs challenged themselves this season, and got a huge win over Utah. They also played the Arizona Wildcats (only lost by two points) and Cincinnati Bearcats (lost in overtime). Both teams are also part of the field of 68.

Yeah, San Diego State certainly didn’t have an easy non-conference schedule, but that should only benefit it in the dance, a tournament that features an endless amount of talent and a boatload of teams with different playing styles.

The Aztecs made it to the Sweet 16 last season, but that team also had Xavier Thames. The NCAA tournament can be a weird beast, though, so it will be interesting to see if this version of San Diego State can go on a deeper run.

The San Diego State Aztecs are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at RantSports.com. If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

The San Diego State Aztecs will be making yet another appearance in the NCAA tournament.

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