Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats’ ability to reinvent self without Ashley tough challenge vs. Colorado


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Notes of tonight’s Arizona-Colorado game while wondering who that brave Arizona fan was holding the block “A” sign during this morning’s College GameDay telecast …

>> How much will the Arizona Wildcats miss Brandon Ashley tonight at Colorado? When the Wildcats defeated Colorado 69-57 in a tightly-contested game (especially in the second half) at McKale last month, Ashley scored 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field. Ashley logged 31 minutes, made his only three-point attempt and converted both free throw attempts. That kind of void will be difficult to fill, especially in a hostile environment at the Coors Event Center. …

>> Ashley had only four rebounds, however, as Colorado matched Arizona on the boards with 32 apiece. The Wildcats rank fifth nationally with a rebounding margin of 8.9. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench and was the second-leading rebounder with five boards against the Buffaloes. Kaleb Tarczewski had eight. Aaron Gordon had only four boards. For Arizona to succeed tonight, Hollis-Jefferson, Tarcewski and Gordon must combine for 25 to 30 rebounds to fill the void left by Ashley’s season-ending injury.


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ArizonaLogo logo.Colorado2

NO. 4 ARIZONA (24-2, 11-2) at
COLORADO (20-7, 9-5)

Tip: 7:05 p.m. MST
Television: ESPN (Dave Pasch/Bill Walton/Holly Rowe)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
National Radio: Sirius 85; XM 85
Rankings: Arizona – No. 4 AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll; Colorado – Not ranked in either.


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MN-Magic number to win regular-season title
z-Eliminated from regular-season title contention

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PAC-12 RPI (
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>> Colorado coach Tad Boyle deserves Pac-12 coach of the year consideration for how the Buffaloes have won five of their last six without Spencer Dinwiddie. Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean said Thursday night that Sean Miller should be selected the coach of the year if the season ended today for how he has coached the Wildcats all season. The Wildcats have remained in the Top 5 for 14 consecutive weeks. Miller also has coached the Wildcats through the difficult task of playing without Ashley. Darkhorses for the Pac-12 coach of the year: ASU’s Herb Sendek, who has the Sun Devils on the brink of the NCAA tournament despite a wave of talented players transferring out of the program in recent years; UCLA’s Steve Alford, who has the Bruins playing cohesively with a distinguishable faster tempo than predecessor Ben Howland; and Utah’s Larry Krystowiak, who has the Utes on the right track after lean years following Rick Majerus’ tenure (although the Utes must start winning on the road).

>> The most disappointing coach to this point: Oregon’s Dana Altman. He still has time to restore order and have the Ducks challenge for the Pac-12 tournament title (they are eliminated from the regular-season race). Oregon has too much depth and roles must be defined better. The chemistry is not there. Altman’s job is correct that. Oregon should win three straight games after disposing of moribund Washington State tomorrow before playing at UCLA in a very important game next Thursday.

Per NCAA national statistic rankings out of 345 Division I teams
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Arizona is No. 4 and 24-2 despite deficiencies with total steals, free-throw shooting, number of three-pointers made and three-point shooting percentage (34.8). In Pac-12 games, Arizona is shooting only 31.2 percent from three-point range.

Arizona is solid with its rebounding, defense in particular in the lane and taking care of the ball (an early-season problem).

After his six-assist, no-turnover performance at Utah on Wednesday, T.J. McConnell regained the top spot in the Pac-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.75). He is the lone statistical leader in the conference for Arizona.

Colorado is similarly balanced having no statistical leaders. The Buffaloes lead the Pac-12 in total rebounds with 1,034. Post player Josh Scott leads Colorado with 8.7 rebounds per game. He had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds in Colorado’s 69-57 loss in Tucson last month.

An interesting statistical matchup: Arizona’s ability to stay out of foul trouble vs. Colorado’s ability to draw fouls. The Buffaloes lead the Pac-12 with 751 free-throw attempts. The Wildcats are tied with Utah for the conference lead in fewest fouls (424).

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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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