Breakdown: Arizona vs. Cal Poly

Arizona will open the season against Cal Poly on Friday night. Read on for a complete positional breakdown, including a score prediction.

Cal Poly at Arizona
Nov. 8 at 8:00 pm
TV: Pac-12 Network
McKale Center


Point Guard

PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. Jamal Johnson (6-0, 177, Jr.)

Johnson is going to have a bigger role this season, but put up very solid assist to turnover numbers last year. He is not likely to put up a lot of points, but should be able to run the offensive effectively and do what Poly needs him to do. Unfortunately for him, his first game with bigger minutes comes against a guard that is going to completely hound him. Johnson will not see many point guards this season better than McConnell and it will probably show on Friday.

Shooting Guard

SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. Kyle Odister (6-0, 185, Sr.)

Odister only started four games last season, but appeared in 30 of 32 of them. He was fourth on the team in scoring last season with 6.5 points per game and the expectation is that his role will have to be bigger and more effective overall. Johnson should be able to stop Odister from having a big offensive game and Odister is going to have difficulty doing the same to Johnson. There's no reason why this shouldn't be a big advantage for Arizona.

Small Forward

SF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. Dave Nwaba (6-4, 200, So.)

Nwaba put up legitimate numbers at Santa Monica Junior College, averaging 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. It is possible that Nwaba comes off the bench in favor of Michael Bolden, but we will give the nod to Nwaba for now. Gordon could have his work cut out for him due to the simple reason that it is his first college game. The five-star forward has more talent than Nwaba, is bigger, stronger, and more athletic. Figuring the groin injury and jitters are not too much, Gordon should have a nice first game.

Power Forward

PF: Brandon Ashley (6-8, 230, So.) vs. Chris Eversley (6-7, 229, Sr.)

Eversley is easily the best player Poly puts forward and the guy that the Arizona defense has to contain. Eversley produced 21 double-digit scoring games a year ago, six double-doubles and led Cal Poly in scoring 17 times. If Poly is going to have any chance of an upset, it is going to be because Eversley played a great game. We're going to make this even because even though Ashley is likely the better player, Eversley is more likely to have better production.


C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 235, So.) vs. Brian Bennett (6-9, 253, So.)

Bennett started every game last season, but is battling injury in camp and may not be as effective as usual. Tarczewski needs to impose his will and this is a good opportunity to do so. It would not be a surprise to see Arizona try to get him involved early and work its offense around him a bit, which makes sense in this type of matchup.



This is a no-brainer. Arizona has Gabe York, Jordin Mayes, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and can go deeper than that if it wants. Poly does have Malik Love, who sat out last season with an injury. Love is capable of playing at the guard or wing positions and is talented enough to get a decent amount of minutes on Friday. Still, the amount of depth and quality of it puts this category in Arizona's favor in a big way.


Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Joe Callero

Overall under Callero, Cal Poly has matched or exceeded its win total from the previous season each year – a four-year stretch not experienced at Cal Poly for 41 years. He is known as a defensive coach and his statistics back that up. Miller, however, is doing it at a higher level and obviously has had more overall success. Often times there is a saying that a coach is only as good as his players and in this case, it is hard to make this a close matchup mainly due to that reasoning.


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Prediction: There really is no reason why this should be a close game, but Poly's defense should make things tough on Arizona, at least for a bit. The difference in overall talent is enough for the Wildcats to win and the fact that Poly beat UCLA last year has helped Miller keep Arizona focused. Look for the defensive pressure and overall size to be too much for Poly to handle.

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