TV: Pac-12 Network
Line: Arizona -24
Arizona (3-0) will take on Norther Arizona (2-3) tonight at McKale. I would say that this should be no problem for the Wildcats, but after witnessing the recent struggles of UCLA and Washington, will not give any guarentees. Here are some points to mention going into tonight’s game:
1. Tonight’s starting lineups
Arizona will likely start Mark Lyons (6’1″), Nick Johnson (6’3″), Solomon Hill (6’7″), Brandon Ashley(6’9″) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7’0). Northern Arizona will play Dewayne Russell (5’11”), Michael Dunn(6’0″), Gabe Rogers (6’2), Gaellan Bawernick (6’6″) and Ephraim Ekanem (6’7″) or Max Jacobsen (6’8″). The size advantage, therefore, heavily favors Arizona.
2.Three point defense
If there is one weak link in Arizona’s play so far, coach Miller will probably tell you it is their three point defense. Against Long Beach State University, the Wildcats had a considerable size advantage and did a good job of keeping LBSU out of the paint. Nevertheless, Arizona allowed LBSU to make 14 out of 32 three pointers (43.8%). If NAU has any chance to make this game interesting, it will be from downtown, so expect Arizona to do a better job of shutting that down.
3. Spreading the love
Arizona currently ranks 27th in the nation in field goal percentage and 16th in points per game. Part of this high scoring comes from taking high percentage shots, which probably comes from the fact that Arizona also ranks 7th in the nation in assists per game. Unselfish basketball spreads the love to a wealth of Arizona talent, so expect them to continue spreading it.
4. Players to Watch
Arizona Freshmen Forward Brandon Ashley currently leads the team in points per game (13.7) and rebounds per game (7.7)–his aggressiveness towards the hoop on both ends makes him the exact kind of player coach Miller loves. In fact, his stellar performance has put him in the starting lineup ahead of Freshmen Forward Grant Jerrett, who was supposed to be Arizona’s premiere recruit this year. Watch to see if Jerrett can bump it up a notch tonight and make a competition amongst Freshmen something to look forward to this season.
On the other end of the ball is another Freshmen that the Wildcats have to look out for. Northern Arizona’s Dewayne Russell averages 15.8 points per game and 4 assists. He doesn’t take a ton of shots, but when he does it is dangerous–Russell’s shooting percentage is 49% and 47.8% from long range.
Fun Fact: In Arizona’s last two games, the Wildcats have held the opponents’ top two players to a whopping combined score of 3 points.