Arizona Wildcats (9-2) at North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-3)by Javier Morales on Dec. 19, 2010, under Sports
The following is a sample of what you can read before Arizona’s basketball games at our partner site WildAboutAZCats.com. The breakdown of positions, coaches and a predicted outcome are routinely published before each game over there.
By the way, WildAboutAZCats.com and another partner — SteveRiveraVentures.com — have a promotion running this season with Tino’s Pizza in Tucson. During any UA men’s hoops game (like tonight), order any large pizza (dine-in or carryout) get a discount of $2. Tino’s Pizza was voted as the Best Eastside Pizzeria by the Tucson Weekly last year.
Before we head into the matchups portion of what WildAboutAZCats.com has to offer, here are the Pac-10 ratings (according to Ken Pomeroy at KenPom.com) and upcoming game for each team (Red-highlighted games indicate important RPI games vs. a higher-rated non-conference opponent):
No. 5 Washington (6-3) vs. No. 206 Nevada, Wed., Dec. 22
No. 19 Arizona (9-2) vs. No. 72 N.C. State, today
No. 33 Washington State (7-1) at No. 162 Santa Clara, today
No. 57 UCLA (5-4) vs. No. 221 Montana State, Tues., Dec. 21
No. 63 USC (6-5) at No. 25 Tennessee, Tues., Dec. 21
No. 80 California (6-4) vs. No. 2 Kansas, Wed., Dec. 22
No. 85 Arizona State (5-4) vs. No. 118 Long Beach State, Tues., Dec. 21
No. 101 Oregon (7-4) vs. No. 251 Idaho, Tues., Dec. 21
No. 102 Stanford (6-3) at No. 49 Oklahoma State, Tues., Dec. 21
No. 199 Oregon State (4-6) vs. No. 212 Illinois-Chicago, Wed., Dec. 21
What’s going right: Scott Wood leads the ACC in three-pointers per game (3.0) and is eighth in three-point percentage (.429). Wood has averaged 11.0 points over his last five games, hitting a total of 19 three-pointers in those games. He has at least one three-pointer in every game this season.
What’s going wrong: Javier Gonzalez and Wood have combined to shoot 40.9 percent (36-88) from three-point range, but the rest of the team is shooting just 19.6 percent (10-51) combined.
What’s going right: Kyle Fogg is struggling with his shot, making only 34.2 percent of his field goal attempts (lowest on the team) but at least he tries to get others involved. He is tied for sixth in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio — 1.6 (34 assists and 20 turnovers)
What’s going wrong: Fogg and Lamont “MoMo” Jones are the opposite of Wood and Gonzales, making only 30 percent of their three-point attempts (21 of 70). More of an indictment of Arizona’s offensive execution, or lack thereof, Jones has only two assists in the last two games.
Who has the edge?: N.C. State. Neither tandem has overwhelmed the opposition this season although who can forget how Gonzalez scored a team-high 18 points, with 16 of his points coming in the second half and 10 in the final 30.4 seconds of the game?
What’s going right: High-profile Class of 2010 recruit C.J. Leslie, whose mother communicated with UA assistant Book Richardson during the recruiting process, has averaged 13.3 points and 12.3 rebounds over the last three outings, recording two double-doubles in that span. Against Youngstown State on Wednesday, Leslie had team highs of 14 points and 19 rebounds. The 19 rebounds tie for the second-most rebounds in a game by an NC State freshman.
What’s going wrong: In the eight games since Smith was injured, post player DeShawn Painter has averaged a somewhat pedestrian 7.5 points and 5.4 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per contest
What’s going right: The shooting overall of Derrick Williams, Jamelle Horne and Solomon Hill is rather impressive — 55.6 percent from the field and 53.9 from three-point range.
What’s going wrong: Horne, expected to be a leader his senior season, averages the fewest amount of minutes (20.5) among starters. His unforced errors against NAU — tipping in a basket on the wrong end and making a turnover inbounding the ball — helped keep the Lumberjacks close.
Who has the edge?: Arizona. Leslie’s performance of late with the Wolfpack is impressive, especially with Smith out of the lineup. But there’s no denying Williams’ impact on a game. He ranks in the top 10 in the Pac-10 in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage, three-point field-goal percentage and blocked shots. Imagine how more dangerous he could be if Horne and Hill were more consistent with their contribution?
What’s going right: Despite not starting a game this season, freshman guard Ryan Harrow is currently tied for the team lead in scoring at 11.1 points per game. Over his last two games, Harrow is averaging 17.0 points, including a season-best 20 against USC Upstate. Harrow did not break double figures in any of the four games prior to that and averaged 6.3 points a game.
What’s going wrong: Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe has only nine scholarship players at his disposal with Smith likely out of the lineup. Lowe sticks to only playing 10 players.
What’s going right: Kevin Parrom might be in the starting lineup soon based on his recent performance, especially in the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic against NAU. He was selected the Most Valuable Player after posting a career-high 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. He connected on 5-of-10 field goal, including 3-of-6 from three-point range, and tallied the go-ahead bucket with 51 seconds remaining. His 26 minutes equaled a season high.
What’s going wrong: Jesse Perry‘s shooting performance is one of the sore spots of the Wildcats right now as he is making only 36.1 percent from the field, including only 1-of-7 from three-point range.
Who has the edge?: Even. Lowe’s bench might get a little more strained than Sean Miller’s but Harrow’s performance is impressive. Sophomore power forward Richard Howell is also an accomplished rebounder, posting 11 in an important victory over George Mason earlier this season.
Can’t help but believe that many North Carolina State fans will look at the coaching staffs and wish things could have fallen into place for the Millers — Sean and Archie — to still be on their side. Sean Miller was an assistant coach with the Wolfpack for five seasons (1997-01) on Herb Sendek‘s staff. Miller and current N.C. State assistant Larry Harris were on the staff together for each of Miller’s five seasons in Raleigh. Archie Miller played and later coached at N.C. State. The younger Miller played for the Wolfpack from 1998-2002, earning a medical redshirt season in 1999. He then served as Director of Operations under Sendek in 2004 and 2005. He was an assistant coach in 2006. During his playing career, Miller connected on 42.8 percent (218-509) from three-point range, including a 57.5 (59-102) percent mark in 2001, the second-best season in school history. Advantage: Arizona. Miller is one of the more promising young coaches in the nation while Lowe, 77-65 in five seasons, is likely in a do-or-die situation this year.
Arizona has to win a meaningful non-conference road game at some point under Sean Miller. Arizona’s three most significant non-conference games on the road in the brief Miller era have all been lopsided losses for the Cats: Oklahoma (79-62) and San Diego State (63-46) last year and BYU (87-65) this year. A win over N.C. State in Raleigh, albeit without Smith (if he is scratched from the lineup), can be one of those turn-the-corner victories for Miller and the Wildcats. The key will be rebounding, limiting the Wolfpack’s second chances. NAU burned the Cats in that regard in the first half Thursday. If N.C. State dominates the offensive glass at home, it will be a long day for Arizona. The Wildcats rise to the challenge and come home 75-70 victors.