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Arizona Wildcats Game Preview & How to Watch

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Washington mercifully closes out the regular season on Saturday in Tucson

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 31 Arizona at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Essentials

Date: Saturday, 2/27/21

Tip-Off Time: 11:00 am PT

TV: CBS

Radio: KJR 950 AM/KVI 570

Location: Tucson, Arizona

Betting line: Washington +15

Arizona Wildcats 2020-21 Statistics:

Record: 16-8 (10-8)

Points For per Game: 75.7 ppg (59th)

Points Against per Game: 67.9 ppg (93rd)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 114.3 (18th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.0 (77th)

Strength of Schedule: 84th

Arizona Key Players:

G- James Akinjo, Jr. 6’1, 185: 15.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 37.5% FG, 39.1% 3pt, 80.9% FT

The Georgetown transfer is still an atrocious finisher around the rim but has reverted back to his freshman year form when he hit 39% of 3-pt attempts compared to 24% as a sophomore. He’s been able to come in and immediately replace Nico Mannion’s stats albeit against a weaker non-conference schedule. In the first game against UW he had 8 points, 4 assists, and 3 turnovers.

G- Terrell Brown, Sr. 6’3, 184: 7.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 40.4% FG, 43.8% 3pt, 77.6% FT

Brown was a ball dominant scorer/distributor with Seattle U but has adjusted his game to fit in at Arizona as a grad transfer. Playing off ball more has really helped his efficiency as he is shooting 10%+ better from 3-pt range than his career average. He’s still only taken about 20% of his shots from behind the arc though so he much prefers to get into the paint or pull up for midrange jumpers. In the first game against UW he had 10 points and 5 rebounds.

F- Benedict Mathurin, Fr. 6’7, 195: 10.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 48.3% FG, 42.0% 3pt, 83.6% FT

Mathurin was the lowest of Arizona’s 4-star recruits coming from Canada but he has thrived ever since moving into the starting lineup following Jemarl Baker’s injury and has gotten on NBA draft boards. He’s an uber-efficient wing and is 6th in the conference in true shooting percentage since he’s capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor. In the first game against UW he had 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.

F- Dalen Terry, Fr. 6’7, 195: 4.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, 42.5% FG, 34.2% 3pt, 60.0% FT

The only non-international freshman for Arizona has been a role player so far for Arizona but is still seeing plenty of the court. He still has a microscopic usage rate but has at least gotten up to about a league average efficiency level when he does take a shot. Terry’s calling card has been defense for the most part and is 3rd on the team in steal percentage and 5th in block percentage. In the first game against UW he had 4 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.

C- Jordan Brown, So. 6’11, 235: 9.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 56.2 FG%, 59.8% FT

Brown has seen his playing time gradually diminish throughout the season thanks to the next name in the preview but is still an above average Pac-12 big man. 90% of his shots have come in the paint and the rest except for one 3-point attempt have been midrange jumpers so he’ll stay pretty much glued to the basket except to set a screen. In the first game against UW he had 12 points and 7 rebounds.

C- Azuolas Tubelis, Fr. 6’11, 245: 12.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 0.6 bpg, 50.5% FG, 35.1% 3pt, 68.8% FT

Tubelis has really blossomed recently and has scored 15+ points in 5 of Arizona’s last 7 games. In a really interesting split Tubelis is shooting 12/22 on 3-pointers on the right side of the court and 1/15 on 3’s everywhere else. Washington needs to know that scouting report and know he also is more than capable of hitting the midrange jumper when the Huskies are in zone. His statistical/physical player comps in the KenPom database include Domanatas Sabonis, Naz Reid, Ivan Rabb, and Luka Garza. Pretty good company. In the first game against UW he had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Arizona 2020-21 Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

Arizona Shot Chart in 1st Game against Washington This Year

Synergy Sports

The Outlook

This game is the regular season finale for the Huskies and senior night for an Arizona team with only one of them. It would be their final game of the year if the contest at Oregon hadn’t gotten assigned a make-up date next week since Arizona has self-imposed a ban on postseason play this year which includes the Pac-12 tournament. Because of that an upset by Washington would clinch the 10th spot in the Pac-12 tourney and a loss combined with a Cal win would put them 11th (also known as last).

The Huskies are a very different looking team from when these two squared off back on New Year’s Eve. Nate Pryor, J’Raan Brooks, and RaeQuan Battle combined for 62 minutes in that game while they received a combined 0 on Thursday night against ASU. Meanwhile, Marcus Tsohonis and Cole Bajema received DNPs. Arizona also looks a little different since starting SG Jemarl Baker who played the 2nd most minutes and was averaging 12 ppg is now out for the year due to injury.

In the first matchup Washington was absolutely bludgeoned as Arizona won the rebounding battle by almost a 2:1 ratio at 58 to 30. The Wildcats are the 13th tallest team in the country and rank in the top-60 in both offensive and defensive rebounding. There’s no question that this represents a brutal matchup for an undersized Husky team that has been playing a lot more of Hameir Wright at center recently and might not be able to do so against Jordan Brown and Azuolas Tubelis. Nate Roberts absolutely can’t afford to get into foul trouble in this one.

Arizona has great size but they tend to really take advantage of teams at the free throw line and from the 3-pt arc. The Wildcats have a pretty clear division of labor. They have 3 bigs who exclusively operate at the basket and then 5 other players all shooting at least 34% from beyond the arc. Although Arizona much prefers it when they dominate teams in the paint since their 8th in FTs per shot attempt and just 316th in percentage of shots coming from 3-pt range.

Teams have to pick their poison playing Arizona whether they try to protect the rim and give open 3’s or hope Arizona just misses some layups or short hook shots while sticking to the perimeter guys. That balance has resulted in the 18th ranked offense in the country.

The Wildcats have a lot more holes on defense but are still an above average overall unit despite it being their relative weakness. Their strength once again comes inside where they are a really good rebounding squad and above average shot blocking group. They struggle at times to force turnovers and if the Huskies play a clean game they should be able to avoid the back breaking live ball giveaways that have really killed them.

Washington shot 24% on 3-pointers while getting destroyed by ASU on Tuesday night then came back and shot 40% on Thursday night and almost won. If the Dawgs don’t shoot at least 40% again then they have absolutely no shot to keep pace with Arizona’s offense. Even if the Huskies catch fire from deep I don’t think it will matter. Arizona’s interior depth should allow them to play volleyball at the rim to make up for it even if they have a relatively poor shooting night. It’s unfortunate that the Huskies are likely to be embarrassed in front of a national audience but I guess the only difference at this point is the number of viewers.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 61, Arizona Wildcats- 78