Arizona Basketball has tough test with CSU Bakersfield

Dec 5, 2020; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Bennedict Mathurin (0) dribbles against the Eastern Washington Eagles during the first half at McKale Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2020; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Bennedict Mathurin (0) dribbles against the Eastern Washington Eagles during the first half at McKale Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

After throttling Northern Arizona just a few nights ago, Arizona Basketball (3-0, 0-0) already returns to action against CSU Bakersfield (1-1, 0-0).

We’re now two weeks into the season, and the Arizona Basketball team is off and rolling. Despite seeing some inconsistencies and struggles against Grambling State and Eastern Washington last week, it seems the Cats have started to find their rhythm, and with good timing too.

After routing the NAU Lumberjacks behind 33 points and a sharp-shooting performance from Jemarl Baker on Monday evening, the schedule will slowly pick up from here in the coming weeks for Arizona, starting with CSU Bakersfield.

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

Even at 1-1, the Roadrunners will prove to be a more challenging opponent, and assuming that the Wildcats likely won’t be able to match their 32-48 (.667) shooting performance from the field, including 13-22 (.591) from three, this game should be a bit closer.

Arizona enters as a 17.5-point favorite here, and if we’ve learned anything thus far, it is that the Cats have numerous talented scorers, and on any given night, the team could be led by virtually anyone on this team.

If the Cats are going to win, they are going to need another solid, offensive performance, and it also means bring the effort and intensity as well, even though they are just two days removed from throttling the Lumberjacks. If they are going to win, these are the Keys to the Game:

Ride the momentum from the NAU win: This team is very much a work in progress. Just because the Wildcats won by 43-points the other night, that does not necessarily mean that Arizona could and should be a Top-10 team.

They will get better throughout the year, they will improve, and it will take time. To me, confidence is key, and with the schedule being easier currently, this is a great time for the team to gel and find their rhythm before they get into the meat of their schedule.

Use the win over NAU to create some momentum and build confidence heading into their next game with CSU Bakersfield.

Get everybody Involved: It is always great seeing the Cats use the deep parts of their bench, and aside from it meaning that it’s a big win for the Cats, but it also means more guys get key reps.

ln their win over the Lumberjacks on Monday evening, all but two Wildcats scored. Now while I don’t think playing more players suddenly means the Wildcats have the deepest bench in the Conference, no, but getting more players opportunities to play means, the bench extends a little in the deeper parts of the season.

Plus, it is always good for getting younger players more chances to play and build confidence. If they can get everybody involved again, that’s a good thing for the team long term.

Take care of the basketball: So far through three games, the Wildcats have 43 turnovers, averaging 14.3 turnovers per game. While that’s not necessarily the worst in College Basketball, however, it does put them in the bottom half in terms of rankings.

Luckily, they looked better against the Lumberjacks, however, they got to continue to build on that performance and clean things up.

Play smart, make good passes and minimize the opportunities for the opposing team. If the Cats do that, they should cruise in this one.

Game Information:

Date: Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Time: 5:00 PM MST (Arizona Time), 4:00 PM PST

Location: Tucson, AZ – McKale Center – Tucson, AZ (14,545… 0)

Line: -17.5 Arizona

Television: Pac-12 Network

Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network Arizona Wildcats (Try TuneIn Radio)

Team Records:

  • Arizona Wildcats (3-0, 0-0):  Arizona is finally finding their rhythm, after completely obliterating NAU, and they return to action against CSU Bakersfield, hoping to become 4-0!
  • CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (1-1, 0-0): After dropping their first game to Santa Clara last week, the Roadrunners followed that up with a win over Bethesda, and come to Tucson looking for the upset.

All-Time Record: Arizona is 2-0 all-time versus Cal State Bakersfield. The Wildcats’ last victory came in 2017 when the Wildcats routed the Roadrunners 91-59 behind Allonzo Trier’s 28 points.

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At Zona Zealots, we are anxious to see how the Cats do following their 96-53 win over NAU, and hopefully, the Cats can duplicate those results come Wednesday evening! As always, Bear Down, Arizona!