by: John Chase
In what I would call a poor showing against ASU, the Huskies showed they could grind out low scoring games with strong defense, rebounding, and physical play. Tony Wroten took the game into his hands when no one else could score and was very effective, going 9-12 from the field, which included a Number 1 ESPN Top 10 Play dunk seen here. Vicious, just vicious. ASJ scored his first points on the hardwood and finished with 4 pts and 5 boards, once again fouling out after 16 minutes.
Now the Dawgs must look forward to Arizona, where another whiteout and ESPN GameDay await. Last season started a new rivalry and provided both Husky and Cats fans with three very memorable games. While the last game in Tuscon did not end well for the Dawgs following a very questionable “block” call, Husky fans hardly need to be reminded of the last match-up versus the Wildcats. Gus Johnson gave one of the best play calls in recent history. Can you say COOOOOOOLLLLLDDDDDD BLOODED?! I did have a link to the last 5 minutes of regulation and all of overtime from that game, but someone got all copyright butthurt and took the video down.
The stakes of this game are huge. UW is in a 4 way tie for first with Colorado, Oregon, and California. Arizona is a game back with a 5-3 conference record after handily beating WSU last night. Win and UW can maintain its first place record, lose and UW drops back a few slots.
The Huskies tend to show up big in marquee match-ups. This season they have played just a tad below where they needed to be for a win. Hopefully those loses taught our players something about winning close games and can seal the deal this weekend. The UA crowd will be into the game big time with the whiteout and GameDay crew in attendance. It will be important for the Dawgs to get off to a strong start to quiet the crowd and swing the momentum in their direction.
Much like UW, Arizona lost a lot of their star talent from last season and have been struggling to find an identity and leader on the court. Last night, Kyle Fogg went off big in the first half, scoring 18 points. Other nights, guys like Kevin Parrom have been the star.
Arizona sees solid production from 4 players and are led in scoring by the aforementioned Kyle Fogg who is picking up 12.2 per game. Fogg is deadly from just about anywhere on the court. He is averaging over 80% from the foul line and 44% from deep. While Fogg is not a big guard at 6-3 188lb, he is strong enough and quick enough to get in the lane and do damage inside the paint. I suspect Wroten will be giving the defensive assignment to shut him down.
Solomon Hill is the most important player for the Wildcats with nearly 12 points per game on top of a team high 8 rebounds per outing. Hill also averages a team high in assists with just under 3 a game. Hill commits a team high 2.4 turnovers per game, which isn’t surprising considering how often the ball is in his hands. Hill can be a hard to defend. At 6-6, many of our guards can keep a hand in his face. It is his 226lbs that are tough for defenders to stay even with. Hill has the strength to take his man to the bucket without too much duress and can finish through contact. I expect Desmond Simmons and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins to body up on Hill and front him to prevent inbound passes. Hill has a pretty solid outside shot and is making 35% on the season. His free throw percentage is respectable as well with 75% on the year.
Jesse Perry is the only other scorer in double digits for the Cats. Like Hill, Perry is a strong forward who is averaging nearly 12 points and over 7 rebounds per game. Perry is slightly taller and skinnier thank Hill at 6-7 216lb, but is just as effective from the field. He is not as great of a shooter, averaging only 31% outside. The key to containing both Perry and Hill is staying in front of them and preventing the dribble drives to the middle.
Kevin Parrom could show up big at times, but after a very devastating summer that included the deaths of both his mother and grandmother as well as getting shot in the hand and leg, it is not surprising that Parrom has not had the type of impact many suspected he would have this year. Parrom has been very up and down this season with 3 games of double digit scoring and 4 games without a single point to his name.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups:
Nick Johnson 6-2 198lb
Kyle Fogg 6-3 188lb
Josiah Turner 6-3 192lb
Solomon Hill 6-6 226lb
Jesse Perry 6-7 216lb
Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
Tony Wroten 6-5 205lb
Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
Desmond Simmons 6-7 225lb
Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb
Keys to the Game:
- Get Hot Early – The Huskies have been far too prone to slow starts this season and I guarantee, now more than ever, a hot start is needed. The crowd will be very loud and very biased towards their home team. It is important to shut them up before their impact on the game becomes too much to handle. With C.J. Wilcox back in the rotation, the Dawgs have a better shot at getting some range in their game, which should help immensely.
- Rebounding – If the shots aren’t falling, the least the Dawgs can do is get dirty on the glass and pick up some nice put backs. Our team is 9th in the nation with over 40 boards per game, though our rebounding percentage could be higher. N’Diaye, Ross, Simmons, Gant, and now ASJ are all averaging over 5 rebounds per game. That is an extreme amount of production from a large amount of players, which gives our team a lot of options when it comes to cleaning house.
- Free Throws – The Huskies were a miserable 61% from the line against ASU, due mostly to very poor shooting performances by Wroten and N’Diaye who combined for 5-14. We cannot afford to miss the freebies, especially on the road where foul shots can be hard to come by. I’m not expecting a 90% shooting performance, but 75% is very reasonable to expect and desire.
The Huskies can win this game if their mentality is in the right place. That being said, this is going to be tough and could end in a blowout if the Dawgs don’t take care of business defensively. What is going to win this game is nose to the grind defense and a tough, go-getter attitude. The Dawgs cannot let the game get away from them or they risk the crowd taking over. Someone needs to go I.T. tomorrow and take over the game. I’d like it to be Ross rather than Wroten, but I have no doubt Wroten will make his impact felt. He loves the big stage and thrives on emotion.
Final Score Prediction: UW-75 UA-74