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Saturday at 8:00 MST at Hec Edmundson Pavillion, Seattle, Washington
Last time out: Arizona-Defeated Washington State, 92-85, for the 33rd straight time behind 23 points from Jason Gardner and 11 assists from Luke Walton…Washington-Beat ASU 71-58 thanks to Doug Wrenn's 23 points and Curtis Allen's 15 assists.
G Jason Gardner (5-10, 185 Jr.)-Since moving to more of an off-guard position, Jason's assist numbers have been higher than they've been all year. He's averaging 5.8 assists per game over the last five outings and picking up 3.3 steals per game as well. Scoring-wise, Gardner has been getting easier shots off the ball and has averaged 26.3 points the last three games. Now that Luke Walton is back, expect Gardner to continue coming off screens to free him up for scoring opportunities.
G Salim Stoudamire (6-1, 180 Fr.)-Stoudamire is the Wildcats' hottest shooter over the last three weeks. In those six games, Salim has shot 55% overall, 50% on three-pointers and 100% at the line (22-22). And even though he was in foul trouble and played only 19 minutes against Wazzu, Salim still scored 13 points on two lay-ups and a dunk off of passes from Walton.
F Rick Anderson (6-9, 220 Jr.)-Ricky has got to stay out of foul trouble for both him and Arizona to run at optimum levels. He fouled out for the sixth time against WSU and averages four fouls per game. That's not going to get it done, even if just from a continuity perspective. Ricky can't get hot and Arizona can't keep its best lineup on the floor when Anderson's on the bench with fouls. The last two games have seen Anderson play an average of only 22 minutes per game and because of that lack of court time, he scored only a total of 22 points and grabbed a mere three rebounds. The saddest part is that Ricky is hitting 78% of his shots when on the floor the last two games. Imagine the numbers he'd put up (and how much better Arizona would be) if he could avoid fouling and play 35 minutes a game?
PG Curtis Allen (6-0, 170 Soph.)-The Huskies' point guard might be the fastest player in the Pac-10 (yes, even faster than Jason Gardner). He gave Arizona fits last season with his quickness and could easily do so again tomorrow night. Allen is a pretty good shooter (44% overall; 39% on threes) but it is his playmaking ability that sets him apart. He had 15 assists against ASU the other night and averages 5.2 per game. However, his biggest problem is that he's often out of control and his turnover numbers reflect that (4.3/game). So while many are quick to point out his impressive number of assists against the Sun Devils, no one seems to notice that he had nine turnovers to go along with them.
SF Doug Wrenn (6-8, 220 Soph.)-Wrenn got kicked out of Connecticut for behavioral problems but seems to be settled in nicely back home in Seattle. He's a tall and athletic wing who is more of a slasher and scorer than a pure shooter. Wrenn will probably be guarded by Walton, who is taller, but will have a quickness disadvantage. Over the past two games, Wrenn has scored 29 (at USC) and 23 points (vs. ASU) and he is more than capable of duplicating those performances against the defensively-challenged Wildcats.
C David Dixon (6-11, 275 Jr.)-Dixon is simply a huge man. He blocks shots (2.1 per game), grabs rebounds (7.2) and scores on occasion as well (7.4 ppg). His problem is that he is Washington's version of Rick Anderson, in that he is in perpetual foul trouble. And, much like Channing Frye, Dixon either blocks a shot or gets called for the foul. He had six blocks against ASU Thursday night and had a season-high of seven blocks earlier in the year. Arizona will counter Dixon with the quicker Frye and the more powerful Isaiah Fox. The good thing is that Dixon doesn't have the offensive game of J Locklier and will be easier to defend for Frye because he is right-handed.
Key Matchup: Rick Anderson (6-9 F) vs. Grant Leep (6-7 F)
-Both Anderson and Leep are similar types of forwards. Both have good perimeter games, both can shoot the ball very well from outside and both are relatively slow defensively and off the dribble. Leep has been the Pac-10's best outside shooter so far, hitting over 60% of his three-point attempts while averaging nine points and just over four rebounds per game for the Huskies. Anderson, when actually on the floor, is a scoring machine who can rebound extremely well for someone with his frame (220 pounds). If Anderson can stop Leep from getting hot from long range, the two players are a wash in terms of quickness so that gives the nod to Anderson and the rest of his all-around game. Of course, disregard everything you just read if Anderson picks up two quick fouls before halftime.
Keys to an Arizona victory:
*Get Channing Frye the ball down low.
Frye leads Arizona with his .566 field goal percentage and has been even hotter since Pac-10 play began (59% from the floor). Though Frye gets a lot of his points off of offensive rebounds, he has developed a nice jump-hook and has improved his range out to 15-feet offensively. The best thing about how Frye scores is that he makes immediate moves towards the basket right when he receives the entry pass. That is something both Isaiah Fox and Dennis Latimore could learn from. By the way, Frye is averaging 13.4 points and 10 rebounds per game over the last seven contests.
*Don't allow Washington open looks from outside.
Leep shoots 60% from three-point range, Allen is around 40% and junior college transfer Josh Barnard hit eight treys against UCLA last week. Arizona has had problems all year defending the perimeter and it looks like Washington could add to those woes because the Huskies make 41.3% of their threes. The problem is that the Wildcat perimeter defenders (Gardner, Stoudamire and Will Bynum) are much too short and opposing players have an easy time shooting over them. This will be a weakness for Arizona all year when facing taller guards and wings as Oregon has proven twice. Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers cannot get here quick enough.
*Put constant pressure on the ball and force turnovers.
Washington is not good when it comes to controlling the ball. As a team, UW averages an embarrassingly high 18.4 turnovers per game, compared to only 13.3 assists. That translates into a terrible assist-to-turnover ratio and is the primary reason the Huskies are under-.500 on the year. Putting pressure on Allen and fellow guards C.J. Massingale and freshman Erroll Knight will greatly enhance Arizona's chances of getting a win.
Frontcourt Edge: Arizona
-The Cats are deeper, bigger, more talented and better from the outside than the Huskies are. Wrenn and Leep are more of perimeter-type guys while Dixon is prone to foul trouble. Freshman post player Jeffrey Day is a very good defender for the Huskies but he's not experienced enough to make a real impact on both sides of the ball yet. Wildcat freshman Dennis Latimore really has a chance to shine in this game.
Backcourt Edge: Washington
-Huskies are deeper, have better shooters, are equally as quick and most importantly have a huge size advantage. None of the Huskies are as good as Jason Gardner is but that means little if they get solid performances from two or three of their players while Arizona relies too heavily on Gardner.
Predicition: 83-80 Arizona
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