In Arizona’s first two wins, the Wildcats were able to play sloppy and still easily overpower their opponents.
There’s a good chance that won’t be the case Wednesday night when No. 2 ranked Arizona plays host to a UC Irvine team picked to repeat as Big West Conference champions.
The Wildcats took care of business versus Mount St. Mary’s and Cal State Northridge despite an abundance of turnovers. With respect to both teams, neither had the type of talent to capitalize off those mistakes the way the Anteaters do.
“In my opinion, we’ll be playing one of the best teams we’ll play at McKale all season,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said after his team’s win on Sunday.
The Anteaters will also be one of the tallest teams Arizona faces this year, as they have five players 6-10 or taller, including 7-6 sophomore Mamadou Ndiaye.
Ndiaye, who averaged over three blocks a game last season, should provide a good test for Arizona big men Kaleb Tarczewski and Dusan Ristic in the paint. While he isn’t much of an offensive threat, he could alter the UA’s offensive game plan and force the Wildcats to take more jumpers.
“Our ability to go to a 2-1-2 zone, with a big guy in the middle as we’re going to be able to have, is a different kind of look,” UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner told Blue Ribbon Magazine.
To their credit, Arizona looked like a viable three-point shooting team against Cal-State Northridge by knocking down eight of 18 attempts. Between Gabe York, a more confident Elliott Pitts and freshman backup point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Arizona’s supposed shooting struggles may turn out to be nothing more than preseason hearsay.