After playing their best game of the season in the words of head coach Sean Miller, Arizona will try to put on an encore performance Tuesday night when it hosts Oakland of the Horizon League.
The Wildcats elevated their play to another level on Saturday, dropping 80 points on Michigan in a matchup that was never competitive. Five players reached double-digits in scoring as the team shot 58 percent from the field.
Arizona has another opportunity to light up the scoreboard when it faces an Oakland defense that allows an average 77.8 points per game – 340th in the country.
The Grizzlies, off to a 4-6 start, were blown out by Michigan State on Sunday night 87-61 and gave up 93 points to Iowa State earlier in the season.
While the Wildcats usually aren’t going to blow teams away with their shooting ability, that could be the case against Oakland, especially if Gabe York and Elliott Pitts find their groove.
York is coming off one of his better outings of the season, in which he knocked down three three-pointers and was also aggressive getting to the basket.
As Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley draw more attention to the post, it only opens up the number of good looks for Arizona’s guards.
Of course, the toughest challenge for Oakland will be trying to contain Stanley Johnson, who is looking more and more comfortable.
The freshman wing is shooting 67 percent over the last four games, thanks in part to some nice alley-oop assists. Perhaps even more impressive is his improving defense, which will need to be on display against a Grizzlies team that can score at will.
“Offensively, they score the ball as well as any team we’ve played all season,” Miller said at his Tuesday press conference. “They have tremendous low-post players and a very good point guard.”
The point guard Miller was referring to is Kahlil Felder, who ranks fifth nationally with 7.3 assists per game. Only a sophomore, Felder is not only a tremendous passer but can also score from practically anywhere on the court. Despite being 5’9, he ranks third on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game.
Leading Oakland in scoring and rebounding is 6’10 center Corey Petros. The senior has four double-doubles in his last five outings and should provide a tougher test for Tarczewski than Michigan’s undersized big men.
Petros would do more damage if he was a better shooter from the line – where he makes only 41 percent of his free throws.
Like Michigan, Oakland has no problem hoisting three pointer after three pointer. In 10 games, they’ve attempted 224 shots from outside. In comparison, Arizona has only taken 153.
However, it’ll take more than a strong shooting night for the Grizzlies to stay competitive. They don’t have the size nor depth to hang with Arizona for 40 minutes.