Florida-Arizona hoops preview
No. 5 Florida (7-0) at No. 8 Arizona (7-0)
Game Info: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Series Record: UF is 2-1 in this series
Last Matchup: Florida won 78-72 in overtime at the O’ Connell Center
Team: Arizona Wildcats
Head Coach: Sean Miller
Rankings in Polls: AP—8; Coaches—8
Key Bench Players
Things to Watch
Marquee Matchup: Saturday’s game between Florida and Arizona will be the matchup of the weekend, pitting two undefeated, top-10 teams against each other. Although Florida has faced tough tests against Wisconsin and Marquette, this will by far be the Gators’ toughest opponent of the season so far. The Wildcats come into this game with an effective blend of experience and dynamic freshmen, while riding high on confidence. It’ll be the Wildcats’ first sellout of the season and the national spotlight will shine bright in Tucson, Ariz., as Florida takes part in one of the best non-conference games this season in college basketball.
Looking for Revenge: Last year, the Gators escaped with a home overtime win against the Wildcats, 78-72, after overcoming a seven-point deficit with six minutes left in the game. Surely, the tough loss still resonates with the Wildcats and they’ll be looking to exact some revenge Saturday night. This year’s Arizona team sits at No. 8 in the polls, which is the school’s highest ranking since the 2006-07 season. In their first seven games, the Wildcats are beating their opponents by an average of 20.4 points. Clearly, it’s a much more improved Arizona squad this time around as it is playing some dominating basketball and looking to give the Gators a taste of their own medicine.
Bombs Away: A striking statistic for Arizona this season has been their 3-point shooting. The Wildcats are shooting an impressive 40.5 percent from 3-point range, ranking them 17th in the nation. They shoot a little more than 21 3-pointers per game, so they’re not shy about launching it from deep. Forward Solomon Hill leads the team with 14 3-point shots made, followed by guards Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom, who have made 12 and 10, respectively.
An Even Bigger Road Test: Last week’s game against Florida State marked the Gators’ first true road test of the season and the team passed with flying colors. This weekend’s mathcup against Arizona brings about another test for the Gators. Not only will Florida be facing a raucous road environment at the McKale Center, but also the Gators have to travel across the country.
“I definitely think you find out a lot more about your team coming out of a road game and traveling across the country to play a very, very good team,” head coach Billy Donovan said.
Guards: The guard position is where the Wildcats generate a lot of their points with Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons leading the backcourt. The two lead the team in scoring at 13.6 and 13.4 points per game, respectively. Johnson came into Arizona as a top 50-player in the 2011 recruiting class and has quickly established himself as the team’s main offensive threat. As a freshman, he started 28 games and became a Pac-12 All-Freshman team selection. He is more than just a scorer, however, leading the team in both assists and steals. Lyons transferred from Xavier after graduating, so he didn’t have to miss any time. He was a 1,000-point scorer at Xavier and has brought the same production to Arizona as the team’s second leading scorer. He brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the team. Off the bench, Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes are the primary options. Parrom can play both the guard and forward positions and at 6-foot-6, he presents a tough matchup for the opposing guards. He rebounds extremely well too, averaging nearly 4.5 redounds per game.
Forwards: Solomon Hill is one of the most versatile players in the Pac-12. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward can shoot and rebound and possesses excellent court vision and dribbling skills for a forward. He struggled last season against the Gators, only scoring five points in 32 minutes, but Hill has turned in some dominant performances this season. He’s the unquestioned leader of this team and as he goes, the team goes. So it will be important for UF forward Will Yeguete and others to limit his production. Brandon Ashley is Arizona’s stud freshman and has shined in his first season. He isn’t the most prolific scorer, but his impact will be felt in the rebounding and defensive areas with his 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame. He leads the team in blocks and is second in rebounding. Grant Jerrett, another freshman forward, sees significant time off of the bench. Much like Florida’s Erik Murphy, Jerrett gives Arizona a quality stretch-four option. When he is on the floor, he’ll be looking to knock down a few three-pointers.
Center: Kaleb Tarczewski (that’s pronounced Tar-ZOO-Ski for those of you playing at home) is the Wildcats’ lone center, but he certainly makes his presence felt. He stands at 7-foot, 255-pounds and is a tough matchup for anybody inside. He leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per game and also contributes on offense with 6.3 points per game. Tarczewski loves to play with his back to the basket and his game relies heavily on his low-post play. Not only is he a big body in the post, but also he has the talent to back it up. He could be a nightmare for Florida if he has a big game offensively.
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2014 Football Commits
|Davidson (NC) Day|
|Columbia (SC) Spring Valley|
|Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar|
|Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County|
|Jacksonville (Fla). Raines|
|Deland (Fla.) High|
|New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine|
|Miami (Fla.) Central|
|Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas|
2013 Basketball Commits
|Clermont (Fla.) Montverde Academy|
|Bonifay (Fla) Holmes County|
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