Coach Leon Rice's team split its first two games of the regular season, falling at Montana 76-74 before rebounding for a 101-81 victory over Northern Arizona on Monday night in Taco Bell Arena.
Rice recognizes the strength of Boise State's November schedule: "We schedule tough," he said. "Northern Arizona won 23 games last year, at Montana, at Arizona--not many people get out of there alive."
Arizona tripped Pacific 79-61 in the season opener last Friday before stopping Bradley, an opponent of Boise State this season, 90-60 on Monday.
Not too many coaches can replace a legend and do it well, but Arizona coach Sean Miller is on the road to doing just that. Miller took over the Wildcats' basketball kingdom from Lute Olsen (1985-2005), and has guided Arizona to 3 Pac-12 championships and 3 30-win seasons.
Gone from last year's team are Arizona's top four players who each averaged double figures in scoring and attempted nearly 63 percent of the team's shots.
Kaleb Tarczewski and Gabe York return for coach Miller at center, and guard, respectively. Kadeem Allen is the other starting guard while Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson and shooting forward Mark Tollefsen. Boise State also nabbed a BC transfer in guard Lonnie Jackson.
Jackson-Cartwright brings good passing and ball-handling skills to the lineup while Tollefsen, a graduate student from San Francisco, scored over 1,000 points for the Dons and is a three-point threat at 6-foot-9.
Anderson led the Wildcats with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Pacific while York, Allen and Tollefsen were also in double figures in scoring. Trier struck for 22 points, including 14-14 from the free-throw line, in the win over Bradley, with Anderson, Tarczewski, York and Ristic joining him in double figures.
(BroncoCountry video by Rod Couch)
Coach Rice has stressed the importance of not only blocking out on rebounds but going and getting the ball, recognizing the rebounding abilities of the Wildcat players. In its two wins, Arizona is outrebounding opponents 47.0 to 27.5 per game.
Rice was attracted to the Wooden Legacy Tournament because of the quality of teams.
"You have great fields--we saw the field of this one this year, with Michigan State, I watched UC-Irving last night--holy cow, they're good. There's an NCAA Tournament team, Michigan State obviously is, Boston College...we know what a good coach he is, he was at TCU, Ed Cooley, he's got a great group at Providence, you've got Arizona, and Evansville is a really good Missouri Valley [Conference] team. That's a great group of teams right there. That's what you want--you want these great teams on neutral courts."
Tipoff tonight is at 6:30 PM Mountain Time. You can watch the game live on the Pac-12 Network.