Sean Miller should hand Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle a thank you card before tip-off.
It was the Beavers’ win over Arizona in Corvallis that forced the Wildcats to press the restart button three weeks ago. In the time since, Miller’s team has won its five past games by an average margin of 19 points.
On Friday night the two teams will face off again but this time in the McKale Center where Arizona has not lost a game in nearly two full years.
And considering the way the Wildcats played against Oregon on Wednesday, it’s looking less and less likely that any opposing team will leave Tucson with a victory this season.
In case the rest of the nation wasn’t aware, Arizona is much more than the Stanley Johnson Show.
Six different players scored in double-figures versus the Ducks, led by a resurgent Gabe York. The shooting guard knocked down three makes from behind the arc in his second highest scoring total of the season.
Going up against a zone-oriented Oregon State team that likes to limit possessions, it will be crucial for York and Co. to knock down those shots. After all, the Wildcats’ inability to hit three pointers is a large part of what cost them the game in Corvallis.
Just as important, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley need to string together back-to-back solid performances.
Ashley attacked the hoop with more aggression Wednesday, using his length to roll in baskets that Oregon had no way of defending. The Beavers too don’t have anyone who can match head-to-head with the junior power forward.
Tarczewski, who recorded four points and zero boards against Oregon State earlier this month, has also played better of late. So has Dusan Ristic, who is shooting 100 percent from three point range in conference play among other things.
Meanwhile Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson keep on playing with the consistency that most coaches can only dream of. It’s worth noting that Hollis-Jefferson took 13 free throws against the Beavers in Arizona’s loss.
For Oregon State, the goal will be do the same as last time: give Gary Payton II the ball on offense and force the Wildcats into taking a lot of jumpers and hope they miss most of them.
Even then, it would still take something nearly miraculous to silence the Zona Zoo and provide Arizona a stunning sweep.