Pac-10 Championship Preview - Arizona

Two down, one to go. After a solid win over Oregon, the Washington Huskies will once again play for the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament Championship, where they will meet the regular season champs, Arizona. The game will start at 3 p.m. PST and will be aired nationally on CBS. The winner will secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This will be the second time that Washington and Arizona have met in the Pac-10 Tournament Championship. The previous time was in 2005 season, when the Huskies went on to win 81-72, despite the 37 points of UA's Salim Stoudamire. UW also won a 2004 semi-finals matchup, 90-85. Those were the only two times they have met in the Pac-10 Tournament.

"We have a lot of respect for Arizona – their program, what they did this year," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said of the 'Cats after UW defeated Oregon 69-51 to earn their spot in the finals.  "They had a phenomenal year.  They won a lot of games and played together and we know we have a tough opponent that we're going to be facing tomorrow."

Arizona, who is coming off of wins against Oregon State and USC, has been the most impressive team in the conference this season. With a record of 27-6, including 14-4 in league, the Wildcats are currently ranked No. 15 nationally.

In the first two meetings this year, both Washington and Arizona defended their home courts, as Washington won in Seattle, 85-68, and Arizona won in Tucson, 87-86. Saturday will be the rubber match, and the Huskies are intent on repeating the history of 2005. "They got us the last time and we want some revenge," said UW guard Isaiah Thomas.  "They're a great team and we'll be ready for them so it's going to be a fun game tomorrow."

The main reason for Arizona's resurgence has been the play of Pac-10 Player of the Year, Derrick Williams. The 6-foot-8, 241-pound sophomore forward pretty much does it all, averaging 18.9 points per game on 62 percent shooting from the field, 75 percent from the free-throw line, and 63 percent from the three-point line. To go with that, Williams is pulling in 8.1 rebounds and one steal a game.

Although he isn't a dominating player on the defensive end, Williams is one of the top players in the country offensively. He is No. 3 nationally in field goal percentage (67.3), No. 2 in true shooting percentage (70.7), and No. 1 in free-throw attempts (276). Williams accounts for 24.7 percent of Arizona's points, and 23.4 percent of their rebounds.

After Williams, the Cats' offensive contributions fall off. Next in line in the scoring department, is Lamont 'MoMo' Jones, who averages 9.7 points a game. The 6-foot sophomore guard is also averaging 2.5 assists. His performance has been better in Pac-10 play, as he is averaging 11.28 points.

Beyond those two, Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill will see their fair share of playing time, although neither has been terribly effective this season. Arizona will also use Kevin Parrom, Jesse Perry, Jamelle Horne, Jordin Mayes, Brendon Lavender and Kyryl Natyazhko, who have all found their moments to contribute, and their play creates a team that is 10-deep - and UA Head Coach Sean Miller will use all of them at some point in the game.

As a team, Miller's squad has been very effective from beyond-the-arc, shooting 40.2 percent from the three-point line, which ranks No. 7 nationally. They also average 1.13 points per possession, which is No. 14 in the country.

On the defensive end, Arizona is a very interesting team. Although they only average 5.1 steals - 297th nationally - and 2.7 blocks - 247th nationally - they force their opponents into 12.7 turnovers a game. Their opponents also shoot only 28.5 percent from beyond the three-point line.

"They've been playing real good, real confident," UW forward Darnell Gant said.  "They're a tough team.  They're great, a high caliber team and we've got to be ready."


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