Where: Los Angeles, California
When: 7:00PM (Mountain)
Radio: 1290 AM
The #12 Arizona Wildcats (23-5, 11-5) will look to avenge their loss from earlier this season on Saturday when they take on the UCLA Bruins. UCLA (21-7,11-4) is tied for first in the league coming off a close victory against ASU Wednesday. Last time these two met at the white out in Tucson, Arizona was just that; white. They were down huge early in the game and were never able to come back, losing 84-73. Arizona is coming off a terrible loss to USC on Wednesday and will try and rebound to prevent a hangover. Lets look inside Miller’s Chalkboard for a series split and an Arizona victory:
Bruins To Watch: The prized golden child, Shabazz Muhammad lit the Cats up for 23 points on 50% shooting last meeting and will have a mix of defenders thrown at him. I see Miller throwing a combination of Solomon Hill, Brandon Ashley and a sprinkle of Kevin Parrom at times to slow this guy down. He is a man child and we cannot afford him to get in a groove early as he did down in Tucson. The Wear twins will also be a tandem to keep off the boards as they provide much of the team’s rebounding (27%). The other player to keep tabs on will be freshman Kyle Anderson who averages 10.0 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 3.7 APG. He does a little bit of everything as shown in the last meeting (8 points and 12 rebounds). The Bruins are the only other Pac-12 team that is in the same playing field as Arizona as far as athletes are concerned. Many other Bruins can step up and play big roles in this game, but if Arizona can reduce the amount of touches these players see they have a chance at a victory.
Play With Desire: We have seen so many different Arizona teams this year I never know which one will show up. The recent theme the past month or so has been the lack of heart and desire in our team. Even after a couple of blow-out victories Coach Miller called out the team for not playing consistent, especially on defense. Our defense is absolutely horrendous at times as we do not close out on shooters and allow teams to shoot over 50% on a consistent basis. We need our pressure defense to step up and force turnovers in result creating easy transition points for us.
Shot Selection: I have expressed my frustrations earlier this year about how we just jack up threes all the time when we are too talented to settle for these types of shots. We have too good of athletes to just jack up threes especially when we are only shooting 36% over the year from behind the arc. We need to let the ball rotate and find cutters to the basket or the open man for an easy jump shot. We also need our big men to realize when to kick the ball out at times or not just force up a shot since they have the ball down on the block. At times someone will get the ball down low and will put up a difficult shot trying to shoot over a defender (or two) or make this circus shot with no angle. Instead maybe they kick it out, re-position and get the ball back for a lay-up or short jumper. More patience and ball movement will provide the Cats with better looks and a higher probability of baskets made.
Cats To Step Up: Solomon Hill tried to step up and start a run last game against USC, but was never able to rally the troops behind him. Solomon Hill is our most consistent player in what he contributes and I see nothing changing Saturday. Mark Lyons had a terrible shooting night as he was 1-9 from the field. I expect more from him and I know he does too. I will look for him to get his teammates involved early Saturday and eventually take control of the game when we need a tough basket made. Brandon Ashley has been in foul trouble recently, then was just really no where to be seen on Wednesday night. He will need to be a presence on the glass as well as on defense as he creates match-up problems. I see him guarding Shabazz on numerous possessions to try and disrupt his play. Grant Jerrett is a great shooter and showed that as he went 50% from the field to contribute 10 points on Wednesday. Although it was in a losing effort, something is to be said for his terrific shooting, especially his range. Overall he is a mere 40% from both the field and long range, tremendous for a player of his size. If our guards can penetrate the middle and kick it out for a Jerrett jumper or three-pointer, he will make it. I see grant having a 10+ point performance again and pulling down a few boards to go along come Saturday night.
Prediction: If the Wildcats play good defense and with some heart they will get revenge and win Saturday on national television 76-72.
Topics: Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arizona Wildcats Basketball, College Basketball, David Wear, Grant Jerrett, Kevin Parrom, Kyle Anderson, Mark Lyons, Pac-12 Basketball, Sean Miller, Shabazz Muhammad, Solomon Hill, Travis Wear, UCLA Bruins