Where: Lubbock, Texas
The #9 Arizona Wildcats (4-0,0-0) look to keep rolling as they take on the hot Texas Tech Team (4-0,0-0) in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech leads the all-time series with a 28-21 record and will look improve their standing in a “white out” contest at their home floor. Arizona is riding high on their horse as they come off some blowouts at home to face an interesting undefeated Texas Tech team at home. Texas Tech has gone through some tough times this past year, particularly with their head coach Billy Gillispie resigning from the team due to “health issues”. New head coach Chris Walker has the Raiders red hot out of the gates winning all four of their games at home thus far, with an average of 88.8 points per contest- good for the second place standing in the nation. Meanwhile, the Arizona Wildcats have won all four of their home contests relatively easy. This matchup looks to be a real test to see how both teams fare against a good NCAA opponent. Here’s a look inside Miller’s Chalkboard for the upcoming matchup between the Wildcats and the Raiders:
Players To Watch: Let’s start with the opposing Red Raiders who have a stellar starting point guard in freshman Josh Gray. He averages 3.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 steals, and 12.0 points per contest thus far. Sixth man Jaye Crockett is an interesting 6′-7″ forward who leads the Raiders in both points and rebounds- 16 and 9 respectively. Look for the Wildcats to try and shut down both of these key players on the Red Raiders roster. The Wildcats will unleash senior point guard Mark Lyons on the true freshman Gray to cause havoc and get him out of sync. As for the lanky forward, look for a combination of Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, and Solomon Hill to handle Crokett in certain situations.
Free Throws: Yes we are shooting a mere 76% from the line, but I can’t tell you enough how much free throws mean to a team, especially on the road against a good opponent. All of the Cats have had their struggles at the line this year, especially the freshman and it won’t be any easier shooting them in front of a hostile crowd. Look for the Cats to struggle from the line and shoot closer to 70% from the line. Getting to the line will be key as well, since the soft Pac-12 refs won’t be calling the game, expect more physical play and less ticky-tacky fouls called.
Big Men: Finally Arizona has incredible size down low with a legit four-man rotation, but they must take advantage of this in order to win. This requires Chol stepping up as he did in the previous contest and scoring easy put backs and turn arounds. Zeus must be able to gain position and back his man down to score his easy turn around and board up. All of the opponents the Cats have faced thus far have been much smaller and the Cats haven’t exposed them to their capabilities.
Seniors: The time has finally come: Seniors Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill are in full stride under Coach Miller’s system. They both know what is expected of them and both usually perform to these expectations. What are they lacking? Leadership, and that’s where transfer point guard Mark Lyons comes in. This may be his first year with this team, but man does he sure know how to run a team. Every time out, sub, free throw, or any instance where there is a dead ball he is in a teammates ear letting them know about their performance. This is essential for our team to play together and make a run later in the season. Look for Lyons to again have a strong showing, especially in the assist category getting all of his teammates involved whether it be with his play or vocally.
Predictions: The Wildcats will start off a little intimidated by the road with so many freshman, but come second half this game will be well controlled, Cats win 84-75.