Arizona Basketball

Time for backcourt of Johnson & McConnell to shine for Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA


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Fast-break notes about Arizona’s game tonight against UCLA …

>> If the Wildcats beat the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion they will match the program’s best start of 16-0, accomplished in the 1931-32 season by Fred Enke Sr’s 18-2 team. …

>> Arizona and UCLA are an amazing 32-32 in the rivalry since Lute Olson was hired by the Wildcats in 1983. …

>> UCLA ranks eighth in the nation at 87.1 points per game. Arizona is No. 3 in scoring defense, allowing only 54.9 points a game. The Bruins are second nationally shooting a remarkable 52.7 percent from the field. Arizona is fifth in the nation allowing opponents to shoot only 36.6 percent from the field.

>> Flip those stats: Arizona averages 74.9 points a game, which ranks 123rd in the nation while UCLA’s scoring defense (70.1 a game) ranks 176th. Arizona shoots a respectable 48.5 percent from the field, ranking 37th nationally. UCLA allows teams to shoot 41 percent from the floor, which ranks No. 92.

>> The bottom line: These teams will play a close and intense game in Pauley Pavilion tonight. The difference will be how Arizona’s perimeter players (T.J. McConnell, Nick Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Gabe York) match up against UCLA’s strength on the outside with Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, Norman Powell and athletic freshman Zach LaVine.

>> Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon can negate the inside presence of the Wear twins (Travis and David) and Tony Parker.

>> This is a game that can show that Johnson is not only an All-Pac-12 talent but potential Player of the Year nominee. This game is why McConnell transferred from Duquesne to Arizona and big-time college basketball. This is his time to show why he was a defensive wizard with the Dukes, ranking third and fourth nationally in steals in his freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively. He presently ranks 60th nationally with 28 steals.

>> What I’m getting at: Who plays better on both sides on the perimeter will determine the outcome of the game, and that includes feeding the inside players with assists and minimal turnovers.

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ArizonaLogo logo.UCLA

NO. 1 ARIZONA (15-0, 2-0) VS.
UCLA (12-2, 1-0)

Tip: 7:05 p.m. MST
Television: ESPN (Dave Pasch/Bill Walton/Andy Katz)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 91; XM 91
Rankings: Arizona – No. 1 AP Top 25/No. 1 USA Today Coaches Poll; UCLA – Not ranked AP/No. 25 USA Today

ARIZONA BEST STARTS
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HITTING A LOW AGAINST ARIZONA
Teams that have scored season-low points against Wildcats
*Neutral court (Madison Square Garden)
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ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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ARIZONA’S STRENGTHS VS. QUESTION MARKS
Per NCAA national statistic rankings out of 345 Division I teams
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Arizona is No. 1 and 15-0 despite deficiencies with total steals, free-throw shooting and number of three-pointers made. Arizona is solid with its rebounding, defense particular in the lane and overall shooting percentage. The Wildcats are taking smart shots by taking advantage of their size inside. The Wildcats have improved upon their early deficiencies such as turnovers (11.2 a game, ranking 63rd nationally) and personal fouls.

ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM
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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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