Breakdown: Arizona vs. UNLV

Arizona will try to extend its winning streak to nine games on Saturday. Read on for a complete breakdown, statistics, and a score prediction.



344.4(18)
UNLV at Arizona
Dec. 7 at 3:15 pm
TV: ESPN2
McKale Center

ARIZONA

UNLV
Overall Record 8-0 (1.000) 3-3 (.500)
Location Record 5-0 (1.000) at home 0-0 (0.000) on the road
Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank) 79.7(77) 59.4(13) 71.5(220) 67.7(99)
Rebound Margin/G: RM(Rank) 13.6(4) 4.2(103)
Steals/G:
S(Rank)
4.9(289) 4.8(291)
Assists/G: A(Rank) 15.9(42) 14.87(76)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank) 51.4(15) 42.8(241)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank) 38.8(60) 34.0(175)
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. Kendall Smith (6-2, 180, Fr.)

Smith is a decent point guard, averaging eight points and three assists per game on 50 percent shooting. The issue here is going to be that McConnell is better at finding his teammates and Smith is going to be on the road for the first time. Having a successful game while on the road for the first time is a lot to ask a freshman and our guess is that McConnell is going to make it as hard as possible for him.

Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. Kevin Olekaibe (6-2, 180, Sr.)

We have highlighted this week that Johnson is playing the best basketball of his career right now. Olekaibe takes seven three-pointers per game and ten shots total. He is shooting 41 percent from behind the arc, but Illinois and Arizona State took that away from him and he struggled tremendously. Olekaibe is going to get his shots up even if they aren't good looks and Johnson should be able to do just fine with that.

Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. Bryce Dejean-Jones (6-5, 210, Jr.)

This is a complete nightmare defensive for Dejean-Jones, which is why we have to assume UNLV may have to go to a zone. He is not strong enough to keep Gordon off the glass or stay in front of him and offensively, Dejean-Jones has really struggled, as he is shooting 37 percent from the field. He is capable of scoring in spurts, but Gordon should be able to stay in front of him and make his life difficult.

Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PF: Brandon Ashley (6-8, 230, So.) vs. Roscoe Smith (6-8, 215, Jr.)

This is going to be a fun one. Smith is averaging a ridiculous 16 rebounds per game, but a lot of that is due to UNLV's bad shooting percentage. Brandon Ashley is likely capable of scoring with Smith, although he averages 13 points per game. The key is going to be keeping Smith off the glass and you have to think Arizona will be able to do that. Also, this is Smith's toughest defensive battle of the season and it is not close. Ashley is the better player here, which is why we are going to give it to him.

Center

ADVANTAGE: Even
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 235, So.) vs. Khem Birch (6-9, 220, Jr.)

This is another one that should be interesting to watch. Birch gets a decent amount of his points in transition and has had difficulty on the block. He averages 10 rebounds per game due in large part to UNLV only really having one other rebounder in Smith. Tarczewski tends to do well with these types of players, but one is not going to have a big advantage over the other.

Bench

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Bench: This is really the argument of quantity vs. quality. UNLV may seem like a deeper team than Arizona, but it has really only played seven guys in close games and that does not mean that those two extra players are good. Christian Wood may get some time against the Wildcats because of his size, but he has had a few games where he has not even played. We do know that Jelan Kendrick is going to get some burn, but there is not much of a difference with him and Gabe York. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is once again the best player coming off the bench and Arizona gets the advantage because of it.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Dave Rice

If you don't know the answer to this, you probably shouldn't be watching college basketball. That's probably the nicest way I could put it also.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
88 71
Prediction: The team that beats Arizona is likely going to be a disciplined one with good shooters that plays a half-court offense and forces Arizona to defend. That's not one quality that UNLV has. We would not be surprised if the Rebels came out with decent energy, but this is a bad place to be when going on the road for the first time. A freshman point guard, team that does not shoot well, and lack of size, means that UNLV is going to have major difficulties.


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