January 2, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Utah Utes forward Jordan Loveridge (21) drives against Arizona State Sun Devils during the first half at Wells Fargo. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Versus Utah Preview

Where: Tucson, Arizona
When: 3:00PM (Mountain)
TV: Pac 12 Network
Radio: 192 XM

The #3 Arizona Wildcats (13-0, 1-0) will try to keep the ball rolling on Saturday as they face Utah, after an amazing come-from-behind win against one of the top teams in the Pac 12. The Utah Utes (8-5,0-1) are going to be hungry after a hard fought game against ASU on Wednesday night, losing by a heartbreaking one point (54-55) in overtime. Utah has improved greatly since last year and will be motivated to beat the Wildcats, keeping in mind their close game against the cats last season in McKale. Let’s take a look inside Miller’s Chalkboard to make sure the Wildcats don’t have to make a come-from-behind win again:

Utes To Watch: Jason Washburn, now a senior, is not leading his team in either rebounds of points per game, but is a huge contributor this year to the team’s success. Now that the Utes have some more athletes and depth, he doesn’t have to do it all. He still puts up 9.9 points a game and pulls down 5.8 rebounds a game. Although both of these averages are down from last year, his field goal percentage is 7% higher than last year. Jarred Debois is a guard who does it all with his 6′-3 frame, leading the team in both points (13.3 avg per game) and assists (3.9 avg per game). He has improved every year he has been with the Utes and can score at will; Nick will need to lock him up early. The other Ute to be on the lookout for is their prized freshman forward Jordan Loveridge, who is second on the team in points (12.7) and leads the team in boards (7.8) a game. He and Washburn down low are a force to be reckoned with, our big men will have their hands full.

Don’t Be Hung Over: It’s very possible that the Wildcats may come out slowly after such an exhausting game Thursday evening. They can not afford to start off flat as they did against Colorado and get in a hole early. Not just for the team’s sake, but for the fans sake as well. We don’t need any heart attacks at McKale this year. They need to put the Colorado game behind them and go to work and follow Sean Miller’s gameplan.

Drive To The Hoop: Over this year, I have found myself telling the team to drive instead of shooting the three pointer. One of the main culprits is Solomon Hill when he receives the rock on the perimeter, then he shoots it and it goes in. Well, that was the case earlier in the season and now he hasn’t been so lucky.  He was shooting 50% from long range in the first 6 games, and now he is shooting 22.7% from long range, including a 2 for 3 performance against Colorado. I think it would be safe to say Solomon can shoot the three, but he is much more dangerous when he drives to the hoop. This goes for many of the other wildcats as well. Nick Johnson is a streaky shooter and when he’s off, he’s off. He needs to recongize this and use his athleticism to get him to the rack for an easy bucket, a foul, or dish it for a teamate. If the wildcats would start the game out by driving it to the lane, this would not only keep the opposing defense honest, but it will allow them to get some confidence in them before they shoot an outside shoot. I’m a firm believer that it is much easier to knock down a three pointer after you have made a couple layups, than to try and shoot a three pointer out cold first time touching the ball. This can also create foul trouble for the other team, especially with Pac 12 refs. Many of the other Pac 12 teams are not as fortunate as the wildcats to have such a deep roster. If we can get them into early foul trouble, it will allow our athletes to exploit their second team. Colorado had 3 players with 4 fouls at the end of regulation Thursday. Had the cats driven the ball into the lane and drawn contact earlier in the game maybe one or two of them are out of the game in crunch time. I’m sure Sean Miller will be in their ear and will be preparing them for a great start of conference play.

Predictions: The Wildcats get after the Utes early and come out on top, 83-70.

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Tags: Arizona Wildcats Nick Johnson Pac-12 Basketball Sean Miller Solomon Hill

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