Arizona (12-2, 1-0) vs. Oregon State (6-6, 1-0)by Javier Morales on Jan. 01, 2011, under Sports
A quick look at what to expect Sunday night at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore., between two 1-0 teams in the Pac-10 — Arizona and Oregon State (for more information about this game head over to WildAboutAZCats.com):
Matchups (Tipoff 8 p.m., Tucson time)
What’s going right: Sophomore point guard Jared Cunningham leads the Pac-10 in steals and is sixth in the nation at 3.0 per game. At his current pace, he would finish with 93 steals through 31 games, which would be second to Gary Payton’s single-season school record of 100 steals set in 1989-90. The sophomore single-season school record is 72, which was set by Payton in 1987-88.
What’s going wrong: Cunningham and senior guard Calvin Hayes, a stalwart who has played 105 games for the Beavers in his career, have combined for 58 assists to go with 59 turnovers. Oregon State overall has 157 assists with 179 turnovers.
What’s going right: This is a difficult task because Lamont “MoMo” Jones and Kyle Fogg would agree that they have much room for improvement. Here’s a positive: Like most of the Wildcats, they are shooting well — 80 percent — from the free-throw line. Fogg is 20 of 25 and Jones is 16 of 20.
What’s going wrong: Fogg is tied for the team lead with 15 steals — Cunningham has 36 for the Beavers — and Jones only has six. UA coach Sean Miller would undoubtedly like to see Jones’ numbers improve in that category, as well as his nearly even assist-to-turnover ratio (34 assists and 32 turnovers).
Who has the edge?: Based on overall production and experience, the Beavers get the nod here. Haynes is a returning second-team All-Pac-10 choice and Cunningham is playing like an all-league player this year (with 13.6 points a game to go along with his stellar defense).
What’s going right: Senior forward Omari Johnson has led or tied for the team lead in rebounding in nine of the 12 games. He led the team in rebounding in just three of the 32 games last season. He also has two double-doubles this season after posting only one previously during his sophomore campaign.
What’s going wrong: The overall production of freshman wing Devon Collier (4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds a game) and sophomore center Angus Brandt (5.1 and 2.7). After missing two games and playing 10 minutes or less in four other games with a sprained left foot, Brandt has started three consecutive games. Collier hails from the Bronx, N.Y., where the UA’s Kevin Parrom is from. They both played in the Catholic league there.
What’s going right: Junior forward Jesse Perry continues to show marked improvement. In his last three games, the 6-foot-7 power forward, has averaged 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, while shooting 61.9 percent (13-of-21) from the floor. Thursday at Oregon, Perry tallied nine points, eight boards, two assists and two steals in a season-best 24 minutes played.
What’s going wrong: Miller likely wants Perry (4.4 boards a game) and sophomore wing player Solomon Hill (4.6) to improve their rebounding totals. They combine for just 9 rebounds a game — a total that Perry should at least approach on his own.
Who has the edge?: Arizona without question. Roeland Schaftenaar were art thou? The Spanish pro league is where. Schaftenaar, a senior with the Beavers last year, schooled UA sensation Derrick Williams when Williams was getting his feet wet at the post position after playing on the wing in high school. In the Beavers’ sweep last year against Arizona, Schaftenaar made 13 of 24 field goals and posted 18 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. The tables should be turned this year as Williams (18.8 points and 7 rebounds a game) should provide Brandt a lesson.
What’s going right: A couple of freshman guards — Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson — are providing hope for the future for coach Craig Robinson. Starks, of Chicago, is averaging 8.2 points and 1.6 assists and Nelson, of Santa Barbara, Calif., is at 9.2 points and 3 rebounds a game. Nelson had to sit out last season and the first seven games this season due to being academically ineligible per NCAA rules.
What’s going wrong: Sophomore forward Joe Burton (8.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game) and senior guard Lathen Wallace (8.4 points and 2.5 rebounds) are also catalysts off the bench, but that’s about it. Robinson relies heavily on nine players. If a player is injured or is in foul trouble, his hands are tied.
What’s going right: The eight field goals and four three-pointers by Parrom were also career-high totals. Parrom hit key buckets against Oregon when the Ducks centered their defense around Williams. If Parrom comes out cold, the game is much different than a relatively easy 19-point win for Arizona. Parrom must provide the same spark Sunday night.
What’s going wrong: Jamelle Horne and Brendon Lavender did not make a field goal against Oregon, which is alarming given the talent disparity presently between the Ducks and Arizona. Lavender and Horne were a combined 0-for-4 in 29 minutes.
Who has the edge?: The recent addition of Nelson, a highly-touted recruit, makes the Beavers much more dangerous. This category is almost even because the Beavers have some talent on the bench that contributes mightily (i.e. Nelson and Burton), while Miller’s bench has Parrom it and goes a little longer (one more player to five deep). In a close game where foul trouble might come into play, Miller might have more options.
After losing four of five games recently, Robinson’s team was 4-6 and looking like it was easily the worst team in the Pac-10 (a loss at home to Utah Valley State was among OSU’s setbacks). Robinson was understandably on the hot seat (he might still occupy that chair). But two straight impressive wins at home over Illinois-Chicago 74-54 and ASU 80-58 have made the Beavers more relative to the Pac-10 standings. Miller, meanwhile, has the UA believing more in itself with a 12-2 record overall. Miller’s future at Arizona looks promising; Robinson’s at Oregon State is more of a wait-and-see situation. Advantage: Miller.
No more than two, possibly, three Pac-10 teams will make the NCAA tournament this season. So any team considering itself a serious contender for those precious spots must win games it is supposed to on the schedule. This game falls under that classification for Arizona, which is looking for its first sweep on the road to start the Pac-10 season since the 2005-06 season. Sweeping on the road is also impressive in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee, which factors in how a team plays on the road. Arizona is 3-0 on an opponent’s home floor (Rice, North Carolina State and Oregon). OSU’s No. 303 RPI rating, according to CBSSports.com, also makes it a must for a UA victory. A loss would severely affect the UA’s No. 27 rating. Motivated by last year’s sweep at the hands of the Beavers and knowing how important a win Sunday night is to their postseason chances, Miller and the Wildcats get it done. Arizona by 7.
WildAboutAZCats.com and another partner — SteveRiveraVentures.com — have a promotion 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. If you take advantage of this opportunity at Tino’s save your receipt and mail it to: TINO’S PIZZA / WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM CHALLENGE, c/o Javier Morales, P.O. Box 531418, Henderson, NV 89053 (include your full name, address and phone number). The person who spends the most during this promotion over the UA’s 18-game Pac-10 schedule wins a free Lute Olson-autographed “UA Basketball Vault” book (valued at $50)