How to Watch (and bet)
Date: Saturday, 2/12/22
Tip-Off Time: 3:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: Huskies Gameday App & KJR 950 AM
Location: Seattle, Washington
DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies +14.5
#4 Arizona 2021-22 Statistics:
Record: 21-2 (11-1)
Points For per Game: 84.6 ppg (3rd)
Points Against per Game: 64.9 ppg (53rd)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 116.4 (14th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 87.2 (5th)
Strength of Schedule: 58th
Arizona Wildcats Key Players:
G- Kerr Kriisa, Fr. 6’3, 180: 10.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.8 apg, 36.1% FG, 34.0% 3pt, 77.8% FT
Last season Kriisa played entirely off the ball with James Akinjo and Terrell Brown Jr. on the roster. He got off to a great start this year but has slumped a little in Pac-12 play shooting just 26% on 2’s with a sky high turnover rate. But he killed Washington the first time around so we’ll see if he rounds back into form against the zone.
1st game against UW: 21 pts, 3 ast, 6/9 3pt
G- Dalen Terry, Fr. 6’7, 195: 6.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 44.5% FG, 26.7% 3pt, 81.5% FT
Similar story for Terry who was viewed as a tall point guard prospect coming out of high school and instead was a wing under Miller. Just like Kriisa his assist rate has nearly doubled, his turnover rate has declined, and he also has cut way down on his 3-pt attempts (from 45% of his shots to 30%). He still doesn’t shoot a lot but he’s been a winning basketball player who keeps the ball moving and doesn’t hurt an offense.
1st game against UW: 13 pts, 11 reb, 8 ast, 2/3 3pt
G- Benedict Mathurin, Fr. 6’6. 210: 16.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 46.3% FG, 36.2% 3pt, 75.5% FT
There was speculation Mathurin would be a one and done after last year but he decided to come back and has looked like one of the best wings in the country over the last month. He can hurt you in a lot of ways and some of his closest player comps on KenPom include Miles Bridges, Ben McLemore, and Allonzo Trier. He’s a potential lottery pick after this year and should absolutely go in the 1st round.
1st game against UW: 27 pts, 6 reb, 10/16 FG
F- Azuolas Tubelis, Fr. 6’11, 245: 14.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 54.6% FG, 23.3% 3pt, 65.7% FT
It was immediately evident last year that Tubelis was an incredibly skilled big who could do just about everything as a true freshman. That hasn’t changed as he has seemingly leveled up and become even more dominant in the paint. He’s shooting 60% on 2-pointers while drawing 6 fouls per 40 minutes. Despite missing a little time with a leg injury he’s right now the frontrunner at KenPom for Pac-12 player of the year although he’s competing with the guys above and below him in this list.
1st game against UW: 9 pts, 1 reb, 6 ast
C- Christian Koloko, So. 7'1, 230: 12.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.1 bpg, 60.3% FG, 74.1% FT
Perhaps the biggest reason for Arizona’s amazing success has been the transformation of Koloko. Last season he was basically Aziz N’Diaye. A 7-footer who could dunk it but didn’t show much in the way of post moves while serving as an adequate shot blocker. Now he’s a terror around the basket on both ends of the floor and is pretty clearly the best all-around center in the conference.
1st game against UW: 22 pts, 10 reb, 4 blk
It would be nice if this game qualified as an immovable object going up against an unstoppable force. The Huskies have been extremely impressive inside Hec-Ed during conference play as they are 5-0 at home. The problem is that those wins were against the teams ranked 7th through 11th in the conference standings. #4 Arizona meanwhile definitely qualifies as that unstoppable force.
The Wildcats lost at Tennessee in a game marred by some officiating controversies going against Arizona and then fell on the road against a fellow top-ten team in UCLA on a night when their outside shot just wasn’t falling. Other than that they have been completely dominant this year. How dominant? 18 of their 21 wins have been by 8 or more points. The last time Arizona was forced to win a close game was on December 11th at Illinois.
As you would expect for a team with legitimate title aspirations the Wildcats can do it all. On the offensive end they are #1 in the conference in efficiency and also tops in the Pac-12 in 2-pt%, offensive rebounding rate, and free throw rate. It’s not a surprise for the 2nd tallest team in the country but they absolutely dominate teams in the paint. Christian Koloko, Oumar Ballo, and Azoulas Tubelis are all 6’11 or taller and shooting at least 60% on their 2-pt attempts. At all points in time there is at least one if not two superb post threats on the floor.
On the perimeter Arizona is propped up by the all-around play of Mathurin who isn’t a 99th percentile guy in any one aspect but is above average everywhere on the floor as a 6’6 wing. Point guard Kerr Kriisa is a streaky shooter with a permanent green light as proven by his 6/9 3-pt performance against UW and then his 0/12 shooting in the loss at UCLA. He and former Ute Pelle Larsson form a European backcourt capable of burying teams behind the 3-point line. Finally Dalen Terry is a 6’7 point guard in a wing’s body who struggles from 3 but always keeps the ball moving.
The gaudy scoring totals make you think Arizona is an all-offense team but if you factor in their lightning fast tempo they are actually 5th nationally in defensive efficiency. Koloko is one of the best rim protectors in the nation who completely shuts down opponents in the paint. That’s part of the reason the Wildcats are 1st in the country with opponents making less than 40% of their 2-point attempts. If the other team is feeling it there’s a chance to beat them from the 3-pt line but Arizona has enough size on the perimeter that they can still challenge shots. And while they don’t force a lot of turnovers they’re unsurprisingly a dominant rebounding team that doesn’t give up second chance points.
Put it all together and beyond the fact that Arizona is just really freaking good, this is a terrible matchup for UW. Washington played perhaps the best 34 minutes of their season in Tucson and couldn’t get closer than within 5 points before Arizona pulled away for an easy win. In that game Arizona shot the lights out at 60% on 2’s and 48% on 3’s but the Huskies managed 18 steals to post a +16 turnover advantage. Maybe Zona isn’t able to hit shots quite that efficiently on the road but the Huskies are unlikely to get 18 steals again.
The lightning fast tempo Arizona plays at means they are going to make it difficult for Washington to ever get their zone set even when the Huskies make a shot. The Dawgs have made at least 40% of their 3-point attempts in 2 of the last 3 games. They’ll have to do it again to have any shot at keeping pace with the Wildcats. Especially with Koloko trying to shut down the paint.
I would love nothing more than for Terrell Brown Jr. to get a signature home win against his old team. But even a single digit loss would be a moral victory especially with Daejon Davis unlikely to be able to suit up. Unfortunately I see Arizona rolling in this one.
Washington Huskies- 67, Arizona Wildcats- 84