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NCAA Basketball Arizona WildcatsGonzaga BulldogsMarch Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament: Arizona Brings Strong All-Around Effort Against Gonzaga

Arizona Wildcats 2014 NCAA Tournament

Donald Miralle-Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats did not look particularly good Friday against Weber State, but they were able to escape with a 68-59 win over the No. 16 seed in the West. They would have to play better to beat Gonzaga on Sunday, and Arizona looked a lot more like a No. 1 seed as they earned a spot in the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four years with a 84-61 victory.

Aaron Gordon had 18 points, along with six rebounds, six assists and four steals, to lead five players that scored in double figures for Arizona. Reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson (17 points, five assists, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (18 points, five rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots) also made notable contributions to a well-balanced overall effort from the Wildcats, who had 15 steals and scored 31 points off 21 Gonzaga turnovers.

The Bulldogs didn’t have a lot of success when they were able to maintain possession of the ball, making less than 41 percent of their field goal attempts (22-for-54; 40.7 percent) and going 6-for-16 from three-point range. Center Przemek Karnowski had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and the backcourt tandem of Kevin Pangos (12 points; 4-for-9 from beyond the arc) and David Stockton (10 points, six assists and five rebounds) were the only other players to score in double figures for Gonzaga.

Arizona beat San Diego State 69-60 during the regular season, and next Thursday night’s game in Anaheim will surely be just as closely contested with two of the top defensive teams in the country renewing acquaintances. I think the winner of that game automatically becomes the favorite to go to the Final Four out of the West Region, and the Wildcats will need to come up with another strong, well-rounded team effort to take down the Aztecs.

Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24

West Regional tickets at the Honda Center are available from PrimeSport so make sure to grab your tickets now and see the Wildcats try to advance to the Final Four!