By: Jacob Cavanah
The Arizona Wildcats and San Diego State Aztecs will meet for the second time this season in Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup. The Wildcats gave the Aztecs their first loss, 69-60, on their home floor in November.
Arizona's potential Naismith Men's College Player of the Year, guard Nick Johnson, had 23 points that game; there's no reason to think he won't have another performance like that.
He's averaging nearly 18 points in the tournament and is making plays on defense as well. Johnson had a productive night defensively against the Gonzaga Bulldogs with 4 blocks and 3 steals.
Red-hot forward Aaron Gordon nearly had a double-double the last time these two teams faced off, with 16 points and 8 boards. A performance like this is expected after the way he has played in the last two games. The freshman's proven to be a hard worker and to be the best defender head coach Sean Miller has.
Gordon said postgame, "If you leave energy left in your tank then it's just going to feel more terrible when you lose."
After he corrected the reporter on a record he broke during a postgame interview, Gordon reminded him that as a freshman he has the most rebounds in one season under Miller.
The Wildcats have confidence headed into this game, as they should, but they know the match up isn't easy. "I don't think there is a better guard in the country than Xavier Thames," Miller said in an Arizona Daily Star article by Bruce Pascoe, who covers Arizona basketball. "You watch the shots that he makes, he's that guard in March that everyone loves to have."
Thames dropped 19 points in November's loss, but it came on a poor 31 percent shooting night.
For Miller, this Sweet 16 appearance is different than the rest. Archie Miller, his brother, has coached his team past two powerhouses, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Syracuse Orange, to the Sweet 16.
"It's very special. We're both the product of a great family. Today [Sunday] is a special day. We're both a reflection of how we grew up," he said.
The energy at this game is expected to be at an all time high. In a postgame interview after Sunday's win, Gordon said, "It really is March Madness. You can feel the electric in the air."
The game is on TBS at 10:17 ET Thursday.
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