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Arizona Wildcats Show Weakness, Find Ways to Win

The No. 3-ranked Arizona Wildcats continue to win games (they’re 12-0 on the season), though they’ve done it in a nail biting fashion. Their flair for the dramatic continued on Christmas Day when the Wildcats beat the No. 17-ranked San Diego State Aztecs 68-67 in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The Arizona Wildcats were only four point favorites in the game, and San Diego State showed why they’re a force to be reckoned with in college basketball’s increasingly polarized western landscape.

“It was very intense,” Arizona’s Nick Johnson said. “They’re the No. 17 team in the country. We knew they were a good team coming in. We knew we would have to give it our all and stay in the game plan, and in the end, it came up big.”

Johnson came up with a key block to seal the game. It was the kind of defensive effort necessary on a night when the Wildcats only shot 37 percent from the field and went five for 20 from three. “I don’t think we had a bad shooting night,” Miller said. “I think we played a great defense.”

Here were some of the betting trends with these two teams heading into Tuesday’s game, per OddsShark.com:

San Diego State Aztecs Trends:
When playing on Tuesday were 6-4
After a win were 10-0


Arizona Wildcats Trends:
When playing on Tuesday were 7-3
Before playing Colorado were 3-1
After a win were 10-0


A few Aztecs at Wildcats trends to consider:
Arizona was 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
The total had gone UNDER in 5 of Arizona’s last 5 games when playing San Diego State
Arizona was 5-2 SU in its last 7 games when playing San Diego State


It was a sloppy game, full of poor shooting and ugly turnovers. However, Arizona once again emerged with a scrappy win, and continue to illustrate why they remain the favorites by a large margin in a watered-down Pac-12. San Diego State, meanwhile, has a proven track record of defeating Pac-12 teams; they have already beaten both USC and UCLA this year. “We are appreciative of the fact that UCLA wanted to play us,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said after his team’s 78-69 win over the Bruins on December 1. “Let’s show why we’re a team they should want to play with regularity.”

Indeed, the Aztecs showed why they should be considered one of the best teams in the country when they played Arizona, while also exposing some of the flaws in the Wildcats’ game that could come back to haunt them. Prior to their game against the Wildcats, San Diego State was holding opponents to just 38.3 percent shooting. Before the game, Arizona was a well-oiled shooting machine, hitting 48.6 percent from the floor and around 40 percent from three. Obviously, they weren’t fully prepared for the stiff defense that the Aztecs brought to the table.

Of course, the Wildcats have been notoriously sloppy with the ball this season too, averaging 15.1 turnovers a game prior to the championship bout with the Aztecs. However, the Wildcats almost cut that average in half against San Diego State by only turning it over eight times. If they want to continue winning close games like they did on Christmas Day, they’re going to need more clean games like this one.

Still, the Wildcats are now one of the few undefeated teams left in the country, and must be considered an early favorite for national championship discussions.

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