Looking for its 41st consecutive home victory (with the nation’s longest active home-winning streak), the Wildcats next face the winless Northwestern State Demons. Reeling since losing its star player, Jalan West, to a torn ACL in its opening game vs Ole Miss, the Demons have since lost to LSU-Alexandria as well as Louisiana Monroe.
West led the country in assists per game last year with 7.7, while also contributing 20 points per game. Along with his gaudy offensive stats, West was also the Southland Conference Defensive POY in 2014.
Similar to the teams Arizona has already faced, Northwestern State has a guard heavy roster and will likely face a difficult time on the boards versus the bigger Wildcats.
In West’s stead, the Demons will predominantly look to junior guards Zeek Woodley and Sabri Thompson. Woodley, averaging about 29 points per game so far, is a high volume shooter and one of the few Demon players that looks to get to the free throw line. Thompson has been the Demons best bench player thus far, looking to score as his first option and a willing deep range shooter.
The Demons run an up-tempo offense, averaging over 64 field goal attempts per game (compared to 55 for Arizona). This will provide the Cats a good opportunity to defend in transition.
As Sean Miller noted after the Boise State game, Arizona is nowhere near where it wants to be defensively. The second of back to back games versus strong offensive teams allows a good chance to test the team’s defensive ability and work out some of the early season kinks.
Against a starting frontline of 6’8 and 6’5, Arizona’s big men should find continued success on the boards Sunday evening. Kadeem Allen will yet again find himself with the job of guarding the other team’s best player, Zeek Woodley. If Allen can continue to corral the opponent’s best player, Arizona should be able to firmly take control of this game early on.
There will likely be plenty of transition opportunities for both sides. Arizona has been a juggernaut offensively this season, and if it can maintain its momentum generated from the three point line against Boise State, the Cats will be in a good position heading into the Wooden Legacy tournament this week.
Allonzo Trier, PJC, York, and Pitts should all get a lot of good scoring opportunities in transition against the Demons. Continuing to try to improve defensively, dominating the boards, being efficient offensively, and really getting used to the new rules affecting defensive play (and consequentially, the excessive number of foul calls) will be the main goals for this lopsided matchup.