The Wildcats (19-9, 10-5) look to recover from their loss against Washington Thursday night when they face USC (6-21, 1-13) in Tucson at McKale Center. Arizona had a good streak going only to be halted by the Huskies. Terrence Ross and FOY candidate Tony Wroten went off on the Cats Saturday. The Cats had no answer for either of them as they scored 25 and 22 points respectively. Arizona was close the entire game until late in the second half when Washington seemed to pull away and left the Cats dead in the water. Now that the Cats come back home and face the worst team in the Pac 12, they need to forget about Saturday’s loss and not take USC lightly. A look inside Miller’s Chalkboard for a few key points to avoid a hangover and get an Arizona victory.
PLAY THIS GAME AS IF ITS THEIR LAST: The Wildcats are a team that can easily come out depressed from their loss to Washington and just blow their chances to get into the tournament. They need to focus on USC and USC only; they can not afford to look forward to UCLA Saturday. We don’t want to see another Utah scare, and you bet Kevin O’Neal will prepare his team the hardest as he would love his second win in conference play to a vulnerable Arizona team. If Arizona plays every game like its their last game of the year, they will be playing in March.
RUN RUN RUN: Arizona might only be going 7 deep, but they are by far more athletic than most Pac 12 teams. They need to use that to their advantage and run teams out of the gym. A perfect way to start that trend is on Thursday at home against a terrible USC team. We need BLav and Nick Johnson running the wings, ready for dunks or trailing three pointers. Josiah needs to use his quick first step and burst of speed to beat his opponent off the dribble and find his teammates for the easy bucket. He has done a tremendous job of this and his IQ has improved so much over the season, so look for JT to run the fast break with ease.
FEED OFF THE CROWD: The Wildcats have one of the best support systems in the nation with the Wildcat Country. The Cats can make the game a lot easier on themselves by playing hard from the start and getting the crowd wild and out. If an early dunk happens, a crafty and-one, huge three pointer, the Cats fans will be on their feet and cheering. This may be what the players need to keep their focus and motivation to play well against an inferior opponent. Look for BLav to continue his hot 3-pointing streak, Nick to build off his 20 point performance against Washington, and Solomon to do what he has been doing all season; ballin.
TROJANS TO WATCH: Little man Maurice Jones (5’7″) is a crafty little speedster and has given U of A troubles in the past. He leas his team in points (13.7) and assists per game (3.3) while stealing the ball an average of 1.8 times a game. Forward Aaron Fuller pulls down a team high 5.7 rebounds a game and adds 10.6 points a contest. He has been a nice addition for the Trojans since this is his first year of eligibility from transferring form Iowa. Freshman Bryon Wesley averages 8.4 points a game and 4.9 rebounds a game, but in the last 5 games has been playing fairly well. He has averaged 12.8 points and 5.2 rebounds a game, he will be a good player in the future for USC.
PREDICTIONS: Wildcats need to finish the season strong and begins Thursday night against USC. The Cats come out on top 82-67 BEARDOWN!