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Mary's College in NCAA first round in Salt Lake City

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Saint Mary's men's basketball team competes in 1st round of NCAA Tourney

The Wildcat offense is operating with the smooth precision of a brand-new vehicle engine.

Preview: Arizona got a bit of a game from No. 15 seed North Dakota, which hung around into the second half, but the talented Wildcats proved to be too much for the Fighting Hawks, winning 100-82.

We saw the results of excessive turnovers during two stretches Thursday night - the only two stretches in which the Gaels ceded control of the game to VCU. Saint Mary's did not score another field goal after that point, but VCU could pull no closer than six points the rest of the way. He leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.6 points a game.

The college careers of five seniors ended with VCU's loss to Saint Mary's in the NCAA Tournament, capping an impressive run for the group: 103 victories, four consecutive seasons with at least 24 wins and four NCAA Tournaments.

The St Mary's Gaels and their six Australian players have battled their way to the second round of the NCAA tournament, but waiting for them is a University of Arizona squad featuring two giants, a future National Basketball Association guard and Perth's Keanu Pinder.

"Our teams, when we played them, were pretty good and they were pretty good", Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. The Saint Mary's Gaels have won four of their last five games on neutral sites. The Gaels shot 55.6 percent from the field and had 13 assists on 25 baskets.

Arizona guard Allonzo Trier is expected to enter this year's NBA Draft while their Australian, 206cm forward Pinder, is a shock weapon Miller inserts to charge up his team. Saint Mary's won 84-53 on December 11 at Moraga, Calif. On the flip side, the Wildcats held teams to 31 percent three-point shooting during the season.

Arizona is known to get out in transition more than Saint Mary's, but the Gaels still pose major defensive challenges. Arizona ranked 32 in the country in adjusted defense according to kenpom.com and they had a clear defensive catalyst in senior guard Kadeem Allen.

For the freshman on the Wildcats' roster, they never competed in a scrimmage against the Gaels. Saint Mary's has one of the best rebounding margins in the nation. "He just had a tremendous end of the season for us".

A big reason they can play their deliberate style of basketball is because of center Jock Landale. Markkanen is comfortable scoring around the basket and stepping outside on the perimeter. He also can do damage in the paint. We've got 6-7 guys.

It offers a chance to step out of the large shadow cast by Gonzaga over the rest of the West Coast Conference.

If USC wants its first Sweet 16 appearance since the Nick Young (before he was "Swaggy P") and Taj Gibson era, Andy Enfield and company will need to solve a freakishly talented and physical Baylor squad.

A match-up that may likely be of epic proportions, the Gaels enter this one a worthy foe to our Wildcats. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo!

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