Breakdown: Arizona vs. Colorado

Arizona will travel to Colorado for the final game of a three-game road trip. Read on for a complete positional breakdown, statistics, and more.



Arizona at Colorado
Feb. 22 at 7 pm
TV: ESPN
Coors Events Center

ARIZONA

COLORADO
Overall Record 24-2 (.923) 20-7 (.741)
Location Record 6-2 (.750) on the road 16-1 (.941) at home
Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank) 73.1 (126) 57.5 (4) 74 (99) 68.5 (133)
Rebound Margin/G: RM(Rank) 9.5 (4) 7.4 (13)
Steals/G:
S(Rank)
5.7 (237) 6.6 (127)
Assists/G: A(Rank)
14.9 (49) 12.4 (205)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank) 46.6 (65) 44.9 (142)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank) 37.9 (79) 32.2 (248)
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG%(Rank) 37.9 (5) 42.3 (115)
Ranking: Coaches' Poll #4 N/A
Ranking:
AP Poll
#4 N/A

RPI

2 (.6765) 24 (.6152)
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. Askia Booker (6-2, 170, Jr.)

Booker deserves credit for raising his assist numbers, but he is still a poor shooter and in reality is playing the wrong position. McConnell is going to have his work cut out for him because Colorado is going to run screens at him in hope of trying to get Booker clean looks because that is what it needs to do. McConnell handled that just fine in the first meeting and our guess is that he is going to be able to do the same on Saturday. Offensively, he had one of his worst game of the season in the first meeting, but we think McConnell builds off his Utah performance.

Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SG: Gabe York (6-3, 180, So.) vs. Xavier Talton (6-2, 180, So.)

This actually is not a terrible matchup for York because Talton is not a great offensive player. Arizona forced him into five turnovers in 16 minutes last game and while York may not be able to do that again, he should be able to score a few buckets. We don't expect York to match his performance against Utah, but that's more realism than anything negative. If he can take good shots, play solid defense, and score around eight to ten points with efficiency, Arizona will take it every game. Talton won't make it easy on him, but York has seen better players across from him.

Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SF: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. Dustin Thomas (6-7, 220, Fr.)

This is actually a good place for Rondae to start and Arizona to be back to its normal lineup, but Thomas' inability to score makes the smaller lineup possible, similar to how it was against Utah with Dakarai Tucker. Thomas is a good rebounder and should be happy about the size advantage, but he is also going to have difficulty guarding Johnson. On the other hand, Johnson does not have a lot to worry about on the defensive side of the ball. If there was a game that Johnson was going to resoundingly end his slump, this would be it.

Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. Xavier Johnson (6-7, 220, So.)

Utah was easily the worst performance of Gordon's career and he will be looking to bounce back on Saturday, Johnson is not an easy player to guard and has had some great games since Spencer Dinwiddie went down and he has had to be more aggressive. Arizona absolutely has to account for him and he has the capability of really hurting the Wildcats as he did in the first meeting when he went for 21 points. Johnson is not a good defender, so Gordon has the possibility of putting together a nice offensive game. He needs to be smarter with the ball and make sure he takes good shots. The difference here is defense, but Gordon obviously needs to be careful.

Center

ADVANTAGE: Even
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 235, So.) vs. Josh Scott (6-10, 245, So.)

Scott is the best rebounder in this game, averaging about nine per game. He has the ability to score as well, but his real threat comes on the glass. Tarczewski has been able to play him relatively even in their careers and we don't see that changing much. Both players demand excellence from each other and tend to get it. Offensively, Scott is probably a little better than Tarczewski, but Tarc has shown that he can handle him. This one is usually fun to watch because the players are so close in skill.

Bench

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Bench: Arizona extended its bench against Utah due in large part to Hollis-Jefferson coming off it. He may play starter minutes, but the change in the lineup worked against Utah. Matt Korcheck, Elliott Pitts, and even Jordin Mayes are going to see some minutes. Colorado has Jaron Hopkins coming off the bench, but that's better for Arizona than it is the Buffs. Wesley Gordon is a solid player on the glass and defensively, but another one that is not a big threat to score. Arizona needs to make sure its defense stays on the same level when the bench gets in, but Hollis-Jefferson is the difference here.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Tad Boyle

We probably like Boyle more than the average Arizona fan. Actually, we know we do. Hate him or not, Boyle is still a good coach that tends to get the most out of his players. Arizona may not be playing as well, but Miller still has the Wildcats at two losses and that is because he has been able to convince this team that its identity revolves around defense and rebounding. Both are good coaches, but one has to be considered better right now.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
65 60
Prediction: We're not going to pretend Arizona has looked good as of late, although the first half against Utah was. What we will say is that Arizona remains a good defensive team and that is always going to keep the Wildcats in games even when shots are not falling. Brandon Ashley was dominant in the first meeting and it is a shame he is not able to play, but that is now behind Arizona or at least has to be. This is Colorado's biggest game of the season, as it always is. Win this one and the case for the tournament is solidified. Colorado really does not lose at home often, but either did Utah. We don't have a ton of rationale for picking Arizona, but we just have a feeling that the Wildcats will answer the call. If Arizona is going to win, it has to match the early intensity and not fall down early. We think it does.


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