Arizona Basketball looks for rebound win against Montana

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 16: Brandon Whitney #12 of the Montana Grizzlies reacts after the 66-58 win against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena on December 16, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 16: Brandon Whitney #12 of the Montana Grizzlies reacts after the 66-58 win against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena on December 16, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

After suffering a heartbreaking loss to Stanford, and having another cancellation, Arizona Basketball (5-1, 0-1) is back in action against Montana (3-4, 0-2). 

It hasn’t necessarily been the best 72 hours for Arizona Basketball. After losing a heartbreaker to Stanford in Santa Cruz, CA, the Wildcats’ scheduled game against San Diego for Monday evening was then canceled due to another positive Covid test from the opposing team.

Just like numerous other games for the Wildcats so far this season, Arizona has had to adapt and live in an era of uncertainty.

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

Well on Tuesday night, the Wildcats will finally return to action, looking to get the taste of defeat out of their mouth.

In their first road game and the first true test of the season, Arizona played about as well as many likely expected, especially for a team still breaking in a lot of fresh faces.

Despite a slow start, a poor shooting performance in the first half, and many critical mistakes down the stretch, the Wildcats still showed a lot of fight, even having a chance to come away victorious. Alas, they did not, their bid for a comeback just coming up short.

Now the focus turns to Montana, who is riding high after three-straight wins, including an eight-point victory of Pac-12 foe, Washington.

With their matchup against the Grizzlies, Arizona will be favored in this one, and this will be their last non-conference game before returning to Pac-12 action on December 28 against Colorado in a makeup game from December 2.

If they are going to win, these are the Keys to the Game:

No Slow Starts: Granted, there is a large disparity in talent between Stanford and Montana, however, as we saw on Saturday evening, a poor first start essentially doomed the Wildcats.

Against the Grizzlies, Arizona can’t have a repeat effort here. I know we have not had a ton of games so far, but now is the time to start improving and playing “cleaner” basketball. This is a team that can’t afford too many slow starts this year, and with Montana beating Washington in recent weeks, that should tell us, this is a team capable of pulling off the upset.

Start fast, play efficient, win!

Improved Defensive Effort: Again, granted Montana is not Stanford, however, these are the games to into good habits.

So far, Arizona has been pretty solid on defense, holding teams to just 62.3 points per game, which ranks them 51st overall, and opposing team to 39.4 percent field goal shooting (73rd overall).

On Saturday, those results weren’t there. Stanford 29-55 from the field, and 7-13 from three, scoring 78 points. Granted the competition was better, but again, Arizona didn’t have the focus they normally do.

Against Montana, the Wildcats need a better effort here, and more focus, especially as they ramp things up against the Pac-12 in the coming weeks.

Make your Free Throws: Arizona is typically a good free-throw shooting team, and just a game after going an impressive 25-28 from the line, the Wildcats followed that up with a 12-23 performance against Stanford.

Granted there were multiple things that didn’t go well in that game against Stanford, however, if Arizona even just converts at just 70 percent as a team, there’s a possibility they win.

They are free points, and you have to make the most out of those opportunities. Make the free shots, earn the points that are given to you.

Game Information:

Date: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

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

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

Line: -13.5 Arizona

Television: Pac-12 Network

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

Team Records:

  • Arizona Wildcats (5-1, 0-1):  Fresh off a tough loss to Stanford, Arizona had to scramble to find an opponent after another game was canceled, and the Wildcats will look to rebound against Montana.
  • Montana Grizzlies (3-4, 0-2): Winners of three-straight games, including an eight-point win over Washington, Montana is finding their rhythm and looking for the upset against the Wildcats.

All-Time Record: 2-0. Since 1949-50, Arizona Basketball has beaten the Grizzlies twice, their last win coming on December 19, 2018, when the Wildcats beat Montana 61-42.

More. On Arizona Basketball. light

Hopefully, the Cats can come away victorious on Tuesday evening, and clean up some things before Pac-12 play. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!