Will Arizona put together a dominant performance? Sean Miller and Arizona fans hope so. Arizona faces Santa Clara in the first game of bracket play in the DirecTV Wooden Legacy Tournament on Thanksgiving evening. Santa Clara is winless so far this season with a 0-5 record. The Broncos return six of their top eight scorers from a year ago, which is a big contrast to Arizona who lost four fifths of their starting lineup.
Jared Brownridge vs Gabe York – Brownridge is a preseason All West Coast Conference pick and Santa Clara’s best player, averaging 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and shooting 84% from the free throw line on 8 attempts a game. York has been one of Arizona’s best players, and most consistent backcourt player. Being a senior with a bigger role this season, York has been playing with tremendous confidence and displaying his all around game. York and the Wildcats will try to force Brownridge into tough shots while keeping him away from the charity stripe.
Nate Kratch vs Ryan Anderson – Both Kratch and Anderson have been leading their respective teams in rebounding. Kratch hasn’t faced a frontcourt with Arizona’s size and experience yet. Anderson missed the Northwestern State game with a twisted right ankle, and it will be intriguing to monitor how effective he will be. Arizona will need a healthy Anderson against their next opponent and especially in the championship, with a potential matchup against Denzel Valentine and #3 ranked Michigan State.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright has given Arizona a different change of pace at the point guard position. He had his best game at Arizona against Boise State last week and that will boost his confidence the rest of the season. PJC has done a great job of setting up his teammates with pin point passes and has an excellent 4:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Dusan Ristic missed some shots he normally makes against Northwestern State but has been very productive this season. Ristic is averaging an exceptional 7.8 rebounds in 16 minutes and has improved his strength and positional defense. Ristic should be able to dominate the smaller Broncos players in the post.
What To Look For
Tempo. Arizona’s offensive flow and rhythm came to a halt against Northwestern State on Sunday. The undermanned Demons played a deliberate game, winding down the clock to try to muck up the game and keep it close. Santa Clara might employ a similar strategy.
Offensive efficiency. Arizona shot an uncharacteristic 36% from the field, 22% from three and 50% from the free throw line against Northwestern State. It is imperative to make shots and get off to a good start against an inferior team.
Santa Clara is a struggling team that has yet to notch a win this season. In the Broncos five losses so far, they have gotten off to poor starts in the first half of each game. Arizona will look to continue that trend for the Broncos and jump on them early, knowing it has two more games to play in three days. This is a game Arizona should win handily with advantages in many aspects, particularly size and experience. The Wildcats will also rely heavily on their bench and getting the starters rest will be key.
Continuing to keep track of Allonzo Trier’s shoe game, he wore the LeBron XI What The against Boise State and the LeBron VIII Low Sprite against Northwestern State.