I remember a conversation with an Arizona writer that said Sean Miller would likely not return to Las Cruces after the Wildcats escaped with a victory in 2011. Miller likes playing the Aggies, but not enough to risk taking a loss. This year's Arizona is better than that team, but NMSU is receiving $95,000 for tonight's game.
It's a tough stretch for the Aggies, who between taking losses aren't able to spend much time practicing to correct whatever mistakes they are making. In games like this, mistakes loom even larger.
Wildcats win 82-67
Rebound: Normally I would consider this a strength of the Aggies, but you consider NMSU opponents have averaged 16 offensive rebounds per game that past three contests. All of the aspects that those other teams have is multiplied tonight. Arizona is out rebounding its opponents by 14 per game this season. The Wildcats have athletic big men, including a so called undersized power forward Brandon Ashley (12 and 7) and a center that can move in 7 footer Kaleb Tarczewski. Undersized post players have killed the Aggies this year. The Wildcats also have a big size advantage on the wings with 6-9 star freshman Aaron Gordon and fellow freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the bench, who at 6-7, is a driver slasher similar to Gonzaga's Gerard Coleman, who scored a career high 21 points against the Aggies, may coming from put backs.
Match up with Gordon: It's easier said than done, but the Aggies need to find a way to force Gordon to shoot jump shots. Part of the reason he's playing on the wing is for his development as a NBA player, but I'm not sure that's his strongest part of his game but he's still shooting 6-13. Renaldo Dixon could be an intriguing matchup on Gordon, or even Matej Buovac because of his length, but those are bench guys. I expect NMSU to play zone to keep their limited post player rotation out of foul trouble. If that's the case, Gordon has a significant height advantage over whichever wing player the Aggies put on the bottom of the zone, likely 6-2 DK Eldridge. Games like this, you realize the important that Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson had on this team, both were big enough and strong enough to match up with mostly anyone at the 2-4 spots.
Transition defense: I haven't even talked about Nick Johnson yet, who happens to be the best player on Arizona's team. Johnson beat the Aggies up and down the floor in Las Cruces as a freshman. He's shooting 36 percent from 3-point range. I think the Aggies need to get back in transition because other than Johnson, the Wildcats are an average shooting team, although Gabe York comes off the bench (42 percent 3-point shooter). Point guard TJ McConnell and Johnson probably get the majority of the touches in the half court. I think those are two spots where the Aggies do match up, but they have to keep McConnell out of the paint and pick him up early.