In the first preview, I made the point that Arizona is, statistically, an elite offense. However, their weakness, perimeter shooting, provides the road map to beating the Wildcats. Interestingly, Don MacLean added that Arizona is not so good guarding the three in addition to not being able to shoot it.
This post examines the head-to-head statistics. The conclusion? According to the stats, Arizona is ahead everywhere except offensive rebounds, turnovers, fouls given and three-point percent. The last couple of games have deflated UCLA's rebounding numbers and inflated Arizona's possession numbers. If it weren't for that, the FTR and fouls received wouldn't be so out of whack.
|Fouls (fouled on Offense)||12||1|
What does the eye test say? There's a big talent and bench gap in favor of Arizona. They will be heavily favored.
That said, the Bruins kept it close in McKale. And that was with Tony Parker, Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh fouling out. So what do they need to do this time?
1) Tony and Kevon need to, first, show up on the boards, and, second, not foul out of the game. Don MacLean said part of Arizona's strategy is to foul out our bigs with their physicality.
2) Hit three's. Donny Mac's key. Arizona is better at bottling up the lane than they are at defending the perimeter. They'll focus more on shutting down our bigs, and keeping Norman Powell from getting to the hole.
3) Hope (and pray) that Arizona can't shoot today -- catch them on a less than stellar day. It's happened before. We've beat them the last two years in the PAC-12 tournament. Also hope that the refs don't take over the game. On the other side of the argument is that Arizona appears to be peaking, and they are pissed of about McConnell and Hollis-Jefferson not getting the top awards (POY/DPOY).
Observations from yesterday: 1) the big story is the facial injury to Looney. At this writing, we don't know if he's playing. 2) Isaac Hamilton scored 36 points on 7-9 from three. 3) The refs seem to be letting them play -- it was a physical game.