Arizona-SDSU pregame: Kerr expects grind-it-out battle

2014-03-27T11:17:00Z 2014-03-28T01:36:01Z Arizona-SDSU pregame: Kerr expects grind-it-out battleBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher has already pulled out a 1-3-1 zone defense recently and says he has another “trick" up his sleeve, so what does that mean for the Arizona Wildcats tonight?

Maybe nothing.

Former Wildcat great Steve Kerr, who will work the game for TBS, says he thinks the Aztecs will stick to their basic man-to-man defense for the entire game.

“That’s who they are,” Kerr said Wednesday at the Honda Center. “The teams are a lot alike. The strengths of the teams are very similar but the level of talent is a littler higher at Arizona, and all things being equal, I would favor Arizona. I think they should win.

“But what San Diego State can do is make it a grind. They’re not going to play it like Gonzaga did. They’re not going to get out and run and let Arizona start flying around. I don’t think they’ll turn it over. I think they’ll get some offensive rebounds. I think it’ll be a close game, and a grind. And in that type of game you never know what’s going to happen.”

Kerr said the key will be who gets takes advantage of “four or five easy baskets” during the game.

“In transition, put-back dunks, maybe a blown assignment leads to a layup," Kerr said. "In the Gonzaga game there were 30 of those. In this game there’s only going to be 8 or 10. Who gets the majority of those? Its going to go a long way. Both teams are so good defensively there’s not going to be many of them.”


The Honda Center was the site of one of Arizona's most memorable NCAA tournament games ever -- its Sweet 16 destruction of Duke -- but it is also the site of Elite Eight heartbreak.

UA's defending national champions melted down against Utah's triangle-and-two defense in 1998, its No. 1 (for most of the season) team lost to Kansas in 2003 and the Wildcats were just a Jamelle Horne three-pointer shy of making the Final Four in 2011.


We posted an e-edition of our Sweet 16 special section and also have have gobs of coverage on our Wildcats page, including:

-- You could say tonight's game is a showdown of the two top teams in the West (the West, period, not West Region).

-- Gabe York is back in familiar territory in Orange County.

-- A look at UA's Sweet 16 teams in the post-Olson era.

-- Greg Hansen reflected on Sweet 16 moments from throughout UA history.

-- Hansen also wrote of Nick Johnson's genes and personality.

-- Sean Miller's brother is keeping Dayton flying.

-- Steve Fisher held steady while building the SDSU program.


Other items related to today's game:

-- Turnovers, rebounding and Nick Johnson are among the keys for SDSU tonight.

-- York's defense is getting him on the floor.

-- The interchangeable nature of SDSU's players is part of what makes the Aztecs tough defensively.

-- UA's Jaydee Luster continues his coaching internship.

-- The Aztecs are powered by their X factor.

-- SDSU's Dwayne Polee II is smiling again.

-- If the Aztecs lead with five minutes left to go, they're money. Ken Pomeroy digs into what that means.

-- UA and SDSU are different teams than they were for their Nov. 14 meeting.

-- The Wall Street Journal notes that Kentucky and Arizona are the only teams left in the NCAA tournament with projected lottery picks.

-- As of this morning, there were still tickets left via Ticketmaster for tonight's Anaheim games.


Cal ended its season in the NIT quarters against SMU.


Oregon's Joseph Young is considering an early departure.


Despite Utah's improvement, Larry Krystkowiak says the Utes didn't reach their goals.


Don't look now, but Stanford may actually have a shot at the Final Four. If nothing else, Johnny Dawkins has taken some pressure off himself.


Assuming Craig Robinson sticks around Corvallis, he could have a pretty packed to-do list.

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