A few minutes after Arizona survived Friday with a 77-75 escape over Memphis, assistant coach James Whitford concluded his radio interview with Brian Jeffries by saying the words that should make the Wildcats and their fans cringe:
“Texas is the polar opposite of Memphis. Memphis is more guard-oriented. Texas is more power ball, getting the ball to their 3 (wing), 4 (power forward) and 5 (center). It will be like playing UCLA.”
UCLA’s Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith combined to shoot 30 of 45 from the field (66.7 percent) against the Wildcats in two games this season. Tyler Honeycutt, who made only 1 of 8 shots in UCLA’s 85-74 loss at McKale Center on Jan. 27, scored 15 on 6-of-12 shooting from the field in the Bruins’ 71-49 rout of the Cats at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 26.
Smith, Nelson and Honeycutt accounted for 59 of UCLA’s 71 points in Arizona’s worst showing of the year at Pauley.
And Texas (28-7 overall) is like UCLA?
“We have to play Texas like we played UCLA at our place, not like we did at their place,” Whitford said with a laugh.
Laughs will be few and far between from when UA coach Sean Miller and his staff departed the BOK Center to the time they finally fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning after watching film of Texas.
The Texas starting frontcourt looks this way:
Freshman post player Tristan Thompson (6-8, 225) — Tallied seven blocked shots in the Longhorns’ 85-81 win over Oakland in the earlier first-round matchup. He averages 13.4 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. He has 82 blocked shots compared to Derrick Williams‘ 25. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds against Oakland center Keith Benson, a future NBA player.
Sophomore wing player Jordan Hamilton (6-7, 220) — He has numbers similar to Williams, averaging 18.7 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. He had 19 points and 10 rebounds against Oakland.
Senior power forward Gary Johnson (6-6, 235) — He had only eight points and two boards against Oakland, but he’s averaging 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a game.
Thompson, Hamilton and Johnson combine to average 43.5 points and 22.4 rebounds a game. By contrast, Arizona’s starting frontcourt players Williams (6-8, 241), Jesse Perry (6-7, 210) and Solomon Hill (6-6, 226) average 33.1 points and 16.9 rebounds a game.
So Arizona (28-7) does not stand a chance right? This is another nightmare in store, similar to how Arizona could not defend (or provide help defense) against the Pac-10 best interior scorers and rebounders? Nikola Vucevic, Alex Stepheson, Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Harper Kamp, Nelson and Smith all over again?