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WSU VS. ARIZONA PREVIEW: A First Look At The Wildcats

Head Coach: Sean Miller (151-66)

Record: 15-4 (4-2)

Best Win: 73-71 over #73 California at home.

Worst Loss: 76-75 to #126 Oregon State on the road.

Offense: 115.6 adjusted efficiency (21st), 55.5 eFG% (14th), 20.1 TO% (138th), 35.6 OR% (71st), 45.6 FTR (26th)

The Arizona offense is centered around Pac-10 player of the year candidate Derrick Williams.  He has put up some absolutely ridiculous numbers, as Nuss detailed earlier in the week.  Stopping him is not the key to slowing down Arizona, because it is something that is not likely to happen.  Even in their blowout loss to Washington, Williams was able to put up 22 points on 8-15 shooting and secure 11 rebounds.  What UW did do well is limit his trips to the free throw line, as Williams posted a 46.7 FTR, well below his 112.3 number coming into the game.

Outside of Williams, the rest of the possessions are shared fairly evenly across the board for the Wildcats.  There are a group of guys, led by Jamelle Horne, who have been able to post inflated offensive ratings thanks in large part to the attention Derrick Williams has garnered.

The real problem that has plagued Arizona and kept them from competing with elite teams is at the point guard position.  Lamont Jones has struggled, putting up just a 93.8 ORtg and an ugly 26.4 TO rate.

Overall, the offense does not have a major weakness.  Even without a solid point guard, they are holding onto the ball at a slightly above average rate.  If all else fails, they can just dump it down to Williams and he can get to the line, or just throw up a shot and watch him get putbacks.  That is what is scariest for the Cougs, as teams with very good offensive rebounders have given them trouble. 

 Arizona also jacks up a lot of threes and makes a high percentage of them.  If WSU's double teams are as ineffective as they were against Cal, the Wildcat shooters (and there are a lot of them) will make the Cougs pay.

Defense: 91.4 adjusted efficiency (39th), 46.1 eFG% (69th), 20.1 TO% (202), 29.2 OR% (53rd),  38.1 FTR (175th)

Arizona doesn't allow teams to take many three point shots, and they don't let them make many either.  U of A is fourth in the country is defensive three point percentage.  They will make the opposing offense beat them inside the arc.

There is potential to do so, as Arizona does not block many shots and is average in defending two pointers and free throw rate. 

The statistical match-up probably favors Arizona here.  WSU does rely on the three pointer more than most teams, as it is 75th nationally in percentage of points that come from threes.  They also won't take advantage of Arizona's average ability to stop teams from getting to the free throw line, as they are 301st nationally in free throw rate.

However, if Reggie Moore is able to shred U of A's defense like he did last year and set up DeAngelo Casto all night, the physical match-up favors Washington State on this end of the floor.

Overview:  This game looks to be tightly contested, as both meetings were a year ago.  Derrick Williams is real threat that has the potential to take the Cougar big men out of the game, literally, with foul trouble.  UA's ability to defend the three point shot will also be a huge hurdle for WSU.  It will come down to Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore's ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim on the offensive end.  On the defensive end, WSU has to be quick with the double teams and not allow Williams to make easy passes to open shooters.

Washington State was just a bad match-up for Arizona a year ago, as the Cougars swept the season series.  Will 2011 be the same story?