Arizona vs. San Diego State: An Aztecs Q&A with MWC Connection

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

We exchanged thoughts about Thursday's West Coast battle between San Diego State and Arizona with MWC Connection's Jeremy Mauss. Here's a link of our answers to their questions.

1.) Tell us a little of what you saw in the Aztecs' first game. What takeaways were there in a 77-41 win against UC Riverside?

It is hard to get too worked up or know a lot after one game against an inferior opponent. It is good to see that the Aztecs did not take them lightly or allow Riverside to hang around by coming out strong with a huge first half lead. San Diego State has multiple scoring options with J.J. O'Brien, Xavier Thames, Josh Davis, and Winston Shepard, so this is not just a one- or two-man scoring team.

2.) Who are the names to know on SDSU's roster? Is the next Kawhi Leonard on this team?

Not sure there is the next Kawhi Leonard yet, but the star player is Tulane transfer Josh Davis. Davis can play right away since he graduated from Tulane and is a graduate student. While in Conference USA he was one of most efficient players in the league, and also one of the best offensive and defensive rebounds. In short, look for Davis to possibly be San Diego State's best player.

Senior guard Xavier Thames could be the most important player on the team. His offensive skills are pretty good but Thames shines as being a lockdown defender for the Aztecs, and should matchup with the other teams best offensive player, unless it is a big man.

Sophomore Winston Shepard is a former top-50 recruit but he has had a tough time transitioning to the college game. Big things are expected but they have not yet happened yet for him.

3.) Can you tell us a little about freshman Dakarai Allen? Seems like he and Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could be vying for best freshman perimeter defender on college ball.

His best skill set right now is on the defensive end of the court where he has the length, lateral quickness and desire to be a lock-down defender, plus he is versatile enough to guard multiple positions. He is active on defense which leads him to getting a hand either in the way or getting a piece of the ball.

Offensively, he has a decent three-point shot but it is usually only good from a set position with a slow release. He lacks quick movement with the ball to blow past defenders and his mid-range shot is not all that good, mainly because of him not having a quick shot. His offense needs work but everyone feels he has upside to at the worst be a lockdown defender.

4.) What concerns would the Aztecs have against an Arizona team that's going to pin its ears back and win with its defense?

Turnovers and easy buckets are a fear of San Diego State if they can not handle the pressure that Arizona will be bringing on the defensive end of the ball. There can be no holding and sitting on the ball but rather the Aztecs quick, smart and crisp passes. Being lazy are trying to force a pass is the best way for Arizona to get some easy baskets.

With San Diego State wanting -- really needing -- to score down low they need to get the ball into the post as soon as possible in their possession. When the ball is down low San Diego State needs to have their outside players be in constant movement to get open from that Arizona defense. If they can do those thing then baskets should be a little bit easier to come by.

5.) On the other side of things, how do you think San Diego State can and should attack the Wildcats?

The Aztecs need a balanced attack on offense to keep the Wildcats from focusing in on just one player. While being balanced for San Diego State is important, it may not be as important as getting points in the paint and not settling for contested outside shots. Their three-point shooting has not been great so if San Diego State is going to take those shots they better be open and nothing forced.

The Aztecs need to use their defense prowess to get easy buckets against Arizona. Look for San Diego State to use an uptempo style or in your face defense on the outside to get those fast break points.

San Diego State has some size to them so they need to attack the boards on the offensive end for second chance points, and possibly more important in doing the same on the defensive end to try to get a fast break.

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