For the second consecutive season, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell saw his squad voted as the seventh best team in the ACC out of the 12 teams in the conference. He'll be hoping to duplicate last year's effort when his team defied expectations and finished fourth in the conference and made its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Brownell's team returns three starters from a season ago and is attempting to integrate a five-man freshmen class into its rotation. Clemson is by no means a deep team, as all five of its starters average at least 24 minutes per game while only seven players log more then 14 minutes per outing.
Clemson is out to a 4-3 start on the 2011-12 season and is coming off a last-second defeat to South Carolina at home last Sunday. Its most impressive win came on the road earlier this season against Iowa, and the Tigers will be looking for another road win to add to their resume against Arizona.
Point guard Andre Young has made 105 appearances in his career at Clemson and is far and away the team's most experienced player. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound guard does it all for the Tigers, leading the team with 14.1 points and 1.7 steals in 34.4 minutes per contest while ranking second on the team with 3.6 assists per game.
Not only does he average less than one turnover per contest, he also protects the ball by being selective with his shots and shooting at a high percentage. Young is the team's leading three-point shooter, hitting on 41.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and 46.4 percent of his field goal attempts overall.
Despite the limitations of his height, Young is the team's fourth leading rebounder and is very good at getting to the free throw line, where he connects on 88.9 percent of his attempts. He's a very complete point guard, who above any other player on the roster, is crucial to what the Tigers want to accomplish on the offensive end of the floor.
The Tigers have another veteran in the backcourt in 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior Tanner Smith, who like Young leads the team in several statistical categories. His 7.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game are best amongst Clemson players, and he's also the team's third leading scorer with 9.7 points in 33.7 minutes per outing.
Smith has not been as good as Young from three-point range, connecting on only 32 percent of his attempts, but excels inside the arc as evidenced by his 49 percent shooting percentage overall. He's not asked to score as much as Young, but he is a critical player for Clemson on both ends of the floor and he'll be matched up with UA's top guard during Saturday's contest.
If Clemson can get 6-foot-9, 225-pound junior Milton Jennings to live up to his potential, it may be a dangerous team in March. Jennings, the class of 2009's number 23 overall player and eighth ranked power forward, is regarded as the best recruit to attend the school in 15 years, and so far he's still working towards living up to that billing.
A former five-star player and McDonald's All-American, Jennings is second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding with 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 25.6 minutes per game. A face-up forward with some touch out to the three-point line, he's hitting on 44.4 percent of his field goal attempts thus far in his third season with the program.
Alongside Jennings in the paint, the Tigers have an experienced big man in 6-foot-8, 245-pound junior Devin Booker. The cousin of former Arizona great Jordan Hill, Booker is tied with Smith for third on the team with 9.7 points per game. He's also the team's second-leading rebounder with 7.1 boards per contest.
Most of Booker's damage is done from the paint, and he's shooting 47.5 percent from the field. However, he's usually good for about one three-point attempt per outing, and he's hit two of six of his tries from beyond the arc this season. Booker is a wide bodied player that will take up space in the paint and will be a handful for the UA big men.
After not starting the first three games of the season, it appears that 6-foot-1, 210-pound freshman Rod Hall has taken over the starting job at the team's third guard spot. Hall has started the past four games, averaging 4.7 points on 50-percent shooting in 24 minutes per game.
Although he lost his starting spot to Hall, 6-foot-2, 180-pound freshman T.J. Sapp has now become the team's top player off the bench. He's one of two Clemson reserves to record at least 10 minutes per game, as he averages 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per contest.
The team's other consistent contributor off the bench is 6-foot-6, 225-pound senior Bryan Narcisse, who is averaging 3.4 points and three rebounds in 14.7 minutes per appearance. Despite his limited playing time, Narcisse has the team lead with 1.3 blocks per game.
Clemson has a big body in 7-foot-2, 255-pound senior Catalin Baciu, who averages 4.6 points in 7.1 minutes. Considering his high output in such limited playing time, Brownell may want to consider giving him more minutes as the season wears on.
Freshmen K.J. McDaniels and Bernard Sullivan may make an appearance in Saturday's game, but their impact will be limited as they are still trying to get up to speed on the college game as well as Clemson's systems offensively and defensively.
After a very fast paced game against Florida, things will be much slower for the Wildcats on Saturday. They'll need to be patient, take good shots, and play solid defense throughout the entire shot clock in order to come away from Saturday's game with a win.