Game Preview: Arizona

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Who: #25 Arizona (15-3, 4-1) vs. #20 UW (13-4, 5-1)

When: Thursday @ 7:30

Where: Hec Ed

TV: FSN

by: Griffin Bennett

The day has come. The showdown is tonight between two ranked Pac-10 teams for the first time in two years. The trash talk is being dished on twitter and the entire West Coast will be watching. I can’t remember a more hyped January Pac-10 game than this one. The game has everything that you want: two top teams, two top players, league title battle, two rabid fan bases, electric atmosphere, and two fast offenses. Let’s hope that the game matches the hype and becomes an instant classic.

Arizona 101:

Derrick Williams is good. Really good. He is the only Wildcat that averages double-digit points (19.7) while also leading his team in rebounds (7.3), blocks (.8), and steals (1.1). The 6’9″ power forward does everything really well, including shooting free throws (77%) and even three’s (17-24). The biggest myth is that you need to shut down Williams in order to beat Arizona. In their three loses this year, Williams is averaging 18.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. If anything, the true key is to box out Williams and make sure he doesn’t get any offensive rebounds. Derrick is too good of a player to be able to shut him down offensively. He is going to get his points no matter how you defend him, so the Huskies strategy should be to crash the boards and limit their possessions while making sure another scorer doesn’t light up the board.

Much like the Huskies, the Wildcats have extreme depth. They have 10 players that average 10+ minutes per game, and seven players that average 5+ points per game. With all of the attention being on Williams, Solomon Hill has risen be the second leading scorer (8.5) and rebounder (4.7). Williams’ double teams have opened up the paint for the sophomore, Hill.

Next, you have to focus on the guards. Kyle Fogg (7.8 ppg, 2.6 apg) and Lamont Jones (7.7 ppg, 2.4 apg) are just average players. They have terrible assist/turnover ratios and are horrendous from the three-point range as they are shooting 30%. The Husky guards should have no problem guarding them and if Venoy can get the calls, he could destroy.

Like I said, the Wildcats are deep. The best of the rest include Jamelle Horne, Kevin Parrom, Jordin Mayes, Brendon Lavender, Jesse Perry, and Kyryl Natyazhko. Horne, Mayes, Parrom, and Lavender are their three-point shooters, but Jamelle Horne is their sniper. He is the player that can get the hottest and shouldn’t ever be given an open look. Natyazhko is a 6’11” forward that can clog the lane and can be an effective defender at times.

Starting Line-up:

PG: Lamont Jones – 6’0″

SG: Kyle Fogg – 6’3″

SF: Jesse Perry – 6’7″

PF: Solomon Hill – 6’6″

C: Derrick Williams – 6’8″

Keys to Victory:

  • Rebounding – More-so then ever, the Dawgs have to limit Williams on the boards and win this battle. I will almost guarantee a victory if they win the battle down low.
  • Three-Pointers – Both shooting and defending. The Dawgs have to limit open looks from the Wildcats, while making their own. They can’t have an off night if they hope to win.
  • Points off Turnovers – The Huskies defense needs to create turnovers and turn them into fast break points. The Wildcats will want to run more offensive sets, and the Huskies high-speed offense comes from their defense. They need to have 20+ points off of turnovers to lock-up a victory.
  • Ross, Wilcox, and Suggs – The Dawgs need 2 of the 3 to have good nights. Both from three-range and passing or defense, they need to show up and deliver on the big stage. I have a gut feeling that Ross will rise to the occasion.

Prediction:

I predicted wins over Kentucky, Michigan State, and Texas A+M but this game has me thinking twice. Can Isaiah replicate his recent success? Can MBA actually limit Williams? Will everything click on the same night? Even if some of those are no’s, the Huskies are still the better team. The key player in this game is Justin Holiday. He is better than any wing that Arizona has on the roster and is a difference maker on both side of the ball. Holiday for the win. Huskies win, 84-80. Bow Down.