UA looks to advance in Pac-10 tourney

Arizona opens Pac-10 tournament play with Oregon State, a team that beat the Wildcats earlier this season.

It is the time of year that will show whether or not a team has what it takes to win big games each and every night out. March is the month where you basically win or go home.

Arizona begins the Pacific Life Pac-10 tournament Thursday with a matchup against Oregon State, which beat Stanford in a close game Wednesday night, 69-67. This will be the third matchup of the season between the Wildcats and the Beavers with each team winning at home.

The Wildcats have been playing very well for most of the season and have several reasons to be confident in their game going into the conference tournament.

The Wildcats captured the league title with a 14-4 conference record and currently have the number one seed in the tournament. One of those four loses came early in the conference season when they dropped a game in Corvallis to Oregon State.

It is not a simple matchup for either team which is why the season series was split down the middle. The Beavers have always been able to have the Wildcat's number and Miller is 1-3 against Oregon State since arriving at Arizona.

The first game went to Oregon State as it was able to turn the Wildcats over 19 times while Arizona only had nine assists. Sophomore Jared Cunningham had a pretty good performance as he poured in 17 points and had a game high five steals in the contest.

Cunningham has proven to be a big time player for the Beavers all season, averaging 13.6 points per game and 2.8 steals per game. The 6-foot-4 guard had 24 against Stanford on Wednesday and will look to have another big game against the conference's best team.

In the second meeting of the season, Arizona knew what was at stake and played a good all-around game that led to Cunningham to have only seven points and six turnovers. The Wildcats themselves limited the turnovers to only eight to their 17 assists.

Rebounding will be key in the game on Thursday as Oregon State is one of the few teams to get a rebounding advantage over Arizona in both matchups this season. Rebounding on the Wildcat's end starts with conference Player of the Year in Derrick Williams.

Williams is a great rebounder and will need to be active on the boards all night. In the first game, the sophomore only grabbed two rebounds in the loss while he exploded for 12 in the win last weekend.

Offensively, Williams is going to be able to exploit the zone depending on where he catches the ball and how he attacks the rim. Oregon State has had problems guarding him in both matchups and with a player of his prowess, you can expect for Williams to continue the offensive trend on Thursday.

It is going to have to be rebound by committee for Arizona, which has normally done a good job of that so far this season. When it comes to tournament play, allowing teams second opportunities is going to be a big key in whether or not upsets can occur.

Arizona is the number one defensive rebounding team in the conference and that will have to continue Thursday. Combine rebounding with a great defensive performance that Miller is expecting from them and Arizona will have a good shot at advancing into the semi-finals.

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