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A look at what to expect Sunday at 3:10 p.m., Tucson time, as No. 5-seeded Arizona Wildcats and No. 4 Texas Longhorns (both teams 28-7) play for the right to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament
What’s going right: Texas freshman point guard Cory Joseph is the team’s “most complete guard”, according to coach Rick Barnes. Through his first 35 collegiate games, Joseph leads the Longhorns in assists (3.0 a game), steals (36) and minutes played (32.3), and ranks fourth in scoring (10.5) and rebounding (3.6). Joseph has reached double figures in scoring in 21 games. He posted 11 points and three assists in 35 minutes during Friday’s victory over Oakland.
What’s going wrong: Texas off-guard Dogus Balbay plays within his limited role of scoring (only 4.1 points a game) because he is known more for his defense. But his 26-of-47 shooting at the free-throw line limits his contribution late in
Texas coach Rick Barnes said Saturday: ‘I’ve always said in recruiting that you never really know what you’re going to get until you get on the floor with it every day. I would say that those guys (Joseph and post player Tristan Thompson) far exceeded — I wouldn’t say far exceeded — but they’re the two hardest working guys on our team. They’re the last ones to leave the gym every day. They are very mature. Both of them really understand the game. Both of them have a really good basketball IQ.”
What’s going right: Led by Derrick Williams (9-of-9) and Lamont “MoMo” Jones (7-of-8), Arizona made 26-of-31 (.839) free throws Friday against Memphis and outscored the Tigers 26-17 from the line. Arizona has not had 30 or more attempts in a game in the previous 11 games. It’s the ninth time this season that Arizona has attempted 30 or more free throws in a game. The Wildcats average 24.
What’s going wrong: Kyle Fogg‘s late-season problems continued against Memphis. He finished 1 of 5 from the field with only four points in 24 minutes. Texas’ guards are known for their defense, so Fogg (beset by a quadriceps strain in his left leg the last two weeks) will find it difficult to get out of his funk against the Longhorns. He has only 13 points in his last four games after scoring 20 against Oregon on March 5.
Williams said Saturday: “Most people think New York players like Kevin (Parrom) and MoMo are a little tougher. But that’s what they bring to our team. They bring that toughness and that swagger about them, and they’re the toughest players on the team. And MoMo’s been great for us this year filling in for Nic (Wise). He’s hit a lot of big shots and taken over a lot of games this season when I couldn’t, when I get double teamed in the game. So for that point guard to have that take-over role has been really helpful for us this year.”
Who has the edge? Texas. The roles for Joseph and Balbay are clearly defined. Jones is a proven leader, but he made erratic decisions against Memphis that changed the flow of the game. Fogg’s health problem with his leg looks like it has affected his mental outlook. Joseph will be critical in setting up Texas’ offensive execution, which was suspect against Oakland in the second half.