Seen and heard in San Diego

2014-03-27T00:00:00Z 2014-03-28T20:03:54Z Seen and heard in San DiegoJonathan Gold Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The X Factor

T.J. McConnell isn’t about to let Xavier Thames catch him by surprise.

Then again these days, the former Washington State point guard isn’t catching anyone by surprise.

Thames is averaging 26.5 points per game in the NCAA tournament and coming off a 30-point game against North Dakota State in the third round.

In the first game against UA on Nov. 14, Thames had 19 points, but on 5-of-16 shooting.

“He’s on quite a roll right now,” McConnell said. “I think he’s top-two in scoring in the NCAA tournament thus far; but he just does so many things for that team. He shoots the ball so well, gets them in the offense; he’s just a great point guard.”

Thames’ game is dissimilar to McConnell’s, but the Arizona point guard said he won’t change his game to compensate for what will likely be a big scoring discrepancy.

“You have to just play your game,” McConnell said. “You know not every point guard is going to play like you, and you can’t change your game to that. I have to play like I’ve played all year, and run this team and defend.”

Learning from the best

Sean Miller has apparently shared a thing or two about his own NCAA tournament experience with his Wildcats. Miller, who played for Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1992, went to three NCAA tournaments and an NIT with the Panthers.

Miller, who averaged 10 points in his college career, had little postseason success, however, never advancing past the second round.

“Coach is just relaxing because he’s done all the things that we want to do,” Nick Johnson said. “He’s been in this position and been on a top team playing point guard. When he says stuff, it sinks in because you know he’s been in that situation before.”

Miller can relate

Miller didn’t always benefit from the luxuries of being a coach at a major program. His time at Xavier gave him an interesting perspective on how the other half lives, and that made him empathetic toward SDSU coach Steve Fisher.

“I’ve been in their shoes as the head coach at Xavier,” Miller said. “You have a lot of guys on your team that have been overlooked, or they’re in their next stop having transferred. A lot of times they have a healthy chip on their shoulder.”

Loosey-goosey Aztecs

San Diego State may have been the loosest bunch in Anaheim, as players were jovial and funny with the media, one of whom came from SDSU itself.

Junior Aqeel Quinn, who transferred from Cal State-Northridge, had a camera and took to interviewing his teammates, and even took the time to interview Fisher.

“I got this guy named Aqeel Quinn who parachuted in from nowhere, and I don’t know how it happened, but it’s been the best thing that’s happened to this team this year,” Fisher said, drawing a laugh.

Local flavor

Like Arizona, San Diego State is no stranger to Honda Center.

Both teams advanced to the Sweet 16 in Anaheim in 2011 — Arizona defeated Duke, and San Diego State lost to Connecticut — but the Aztecs have played in the arena twice since then, with big results. SDSU beat UCLA in the Wooden Classic at Honda Center in December 2012, and this season the Aztecs defeated then-

No. 25 Marquette in the championship game of the Wooden Legacy tournament on Dec. 1.

“We all feel comfortable here,” said Quinn, who played in the big building twice for Leuzinger High School of Hawthorne, Calif., in the state championships. “When we first walked into the gym in Spokane it was kind of different, but when we came here, we were good. It kind of does play a part, but when the ball is tipped, it doesn’t matter.”

Oh, Mandy

Honda Center has been home to an NHL championship, countless college basketball games and it even hosted a college hockey Frozen Four.

But what of its beginnings?

Turns out the first event at the arena was a sold-out Barry Manilow concert. No word if Gabe York was in attendance.

Jon Gold

Jon Gold

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 13 2 0 0.867 25 3 0 0.893
Utah 12 3 0 0.800 22 5 0 0.815
Oregon 10 5 0 0.667 20 8 0 0.714
Stanford 9 6 0 0.600 18 9 0 0.667
UCLA 9 7 0 0.563 17 12 0 0.586
Oregon State 8 8 0 0.500 16 11 0 0.593
Arizona State 7 8 0 0.467 16 13 0 0.552
Washington State 6 9 0 0.400 12 15 0 0.444
Colorado 5 9 0 0.357 12 13 0 0.480
California 5 9 0 0.357 15 12 0 0.556
Washington 4 11 0 0.267 15 12 0 0.556
USC 2 13 0 0.133 10 17 0 0.370

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Arizona at
2/26 82-54
Arizona State at
2/26 41-83
Oregon State at
2/26 48-75
Arizona at
2/28 7:00 pm
Washington at
2/28 8:00 pm
Oregon State at
3/1 1:00 pm
Oregon at
3/1 5:00 pm
Arizona State at
3/1 6:30 pm
Washington State at
3/1 7:30 pm
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