Scouting the Huskies

Arizona head coach Lute Olson said Tuesday that Washington played "well enough to win" when the two teams first met last month in Seattle. If it wasn't for untimely missed free throws by the Huskies, we might be sitting here talking about Arizona going out for revenge on Thursday night. Are the Huskies good enough to keep it close this time around?

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Arizona (8-3; 15-6) vs. Washington (2-9; 8-13)
Thursday at 6:30 MST at McKale Center, Tucson, Arizona.
Last time out: Arizona-Defeated Stanford in Palo Alto after overcoming a 15-point second half deficit. Channing Frye led the Cats with a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds…Washington-Lost at Washington State, 81-79. Husky sophomore sensation Doug Wrenn had a career-high 34 points.

Since these two have already met once before (Arizona defeated Washington 74-69 in Seattle), let's get straight to the match-ups.

PG-Jason Gardner (5-10, 185 Jr.) vs. Curtis Allen (6-0, 170 Soph.)
*Allen matched Gardner in Seattle in the head-to-head showdown between the two lead guards, but it was Gardner who made the clutch shots down the stretch to give Arizona the win. Allen is extremely quick ("We still haven't seen anyone quicker than Curtis Allen in this league," Lute Olson said), and gives Gardner trouble offensively. "It's kind of hard to guard him," Gardner said of Allen. "He's got a good crossover and gets to the basket. He can catch you on your heels." Since Arizona is at home, where Gardner shines, expect the Wildcat junior to get the best of this match-up, but not without some trouble along the way from Allen.
-EDGE: Gardner (Arizona)

SG-Salim Stoudamire (6-1, 180 Fr.) vs. Erroll Knight (6-7, 205 Fr.)
*Both of these freshmen from the Pacific Northwest are almost surefire stars for the future. Knight has the size to be an NBA two-guard with continued progress and the athleticism is already there. Stoudamire has no ceiling for how good he can be. In this match-up, look for Stoudamire to shoot well in McKale and to score around what he scored in Seattle (16 points). The taller Knight will be tough to deal with defensively for Salim but Stoudmaire did a great job on the 6-6 Casey Jacobsen against Stanford last week. When it comes to being a pure competitor, maybe only Gardner can match Salim's intensity.
-EDGE: Stoudamire (Arizona)

SF-Luke Walton (6-8, 235 Jr.) vs. Doug Wrenn (6-8, 220 Soph.)
*Does anyone else wonder why Washington is only 2-9 in conference play with these three guys so far? Wrenn is the best of the bunch too. The lock for the conference Newcomer of the Year Award is averaging 19.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game on the year and 28.3 points per contest over the last three Husky games. Against Arizona in Seattle, Wrenn penetrated at will for a game-high 25 points, made Arizona re-think its defensive scheme and transformed it into a zone team. "Wrenn's as good as there is in the league when you look at scoring ability and rebounding," Olson said. In the rematch, Walton will not likely encounter the same foul trouble that plagued him in Seattle, and that means that this will be an outstanding competition. No question that the small forward position is the most loaded in the Pac-10, thanks to guys like these two. Walton's all-around game is more valuable than Wrenn's scoring ability.
-EDGE: Walton (Arizona)

PF-Ricky Anderson (6-9, 220 Jr.) vs. Grant Leep (6-7, 230 Sr.)
*Stopping Leep from shooting threes all night will be Anderson's top priority. The Husky senior is shooting 52% from behind the arc but "only" 40% in conference play. Arizona's defense did a lot better against the perimeter shooters from Cal and Stanford last week and building on that progress is a must for the Wildcats to get to where they want to be as the season winds down to the Tournament. Anderson has been playing really well of late and has shown some aggression (controlled aggression) that had been lacking until recently. When he plays well, Arizona is extremely tough to beat.
-EDGE: Anderson (Arizona)

C-Channing Frye (6-10, 225 Fr.) vs. David Dixon (6-11, 270 Sr.)
*Dixon outplayed Frye in the last meeting by grabbing 14 rebounds to go along with his 11 points. Frye managed to match Dixon with 11 points and did make all five shots he took from the field but for him to win this match-up, he will need an improved effort on the boards. Dixon is much bigger than Frye, but Frye is more athletic and can take him outside for 15-footers whenever the play calls for it. Actually, Frye may have to take him outside the lane because Dixon is averaging 2.5 blocks per game and getting him away from the hoop will make it much easier for the Arizona guards to penetrate and score.
-EDGE: Push.

Keys to an Arizona victory:
*Get Channing Frye the ball down low. Frye leads Arizona with his .636 field goal percentage and has been even hotter since Pac-10 play began (an incredible .701 from the floor). Though Frye gets a lot of his points from offensive rebounds, he has developed a nice jump-hook and has improved his range out to 18-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 played at Stanford, it is tough to believe anyone will thwart his progress the rest of the way this season. He is destined for superstardom.

*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 17.6 turnovers per game, compared to only 13 assists. That translates into a terrible assist-to-turnover ratio and is the primary reason the Huskies are well below .500 on the year. Putting pressure on Allen and fellow guards C.J. Massingale and Knight will greatly enhance Arizona's chances of getting a win. If the Huskies get sloppy with the ball in McKale, things could get ugly in a hurry.

Predicition: 91-67 Arizona.

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