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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

3 ways Arizona can make, miss the Final Four

Three ways to make it:

York catches fire

Arizona is supremely talented, but its key could actually be its sixth man. The Wildcats start a center, a power forward, a point guard and two wings. That first five is tremendously talented, but other than point guard T.J. McConnell, who doesn’t take many jumpers, they lack shooters. Teams love to play zone against the sometimes offensively challenged Wildcats, and when shooting guard Gabe York can bring three or four 3’s off the bench, the UA is hard to beat. The Wildcats are second in the country in 2-pointers made but 299th in 3-pointers, and yet they are ninth in scoring. With more three ball, they would almost be unstoppable.

Johnson goes D-Will

In 2011, in Southern California, former Wildcat forward went HAM in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, almost leading Arizona to the promised land. Derrick Williams scored a career-high 32 points as the Wildcats destroyed Duke 93-77. Then in the Elite Eight, he scored 20 points as the Wildcats came within a bucket of beating eventual national champion UConn. Stanley Johnson, current Arizona forward and Southern California native, is poised for a similar breakout performance in Los Angeles, Calif., this weekend. Last week, he scored 22 points in the second round, the second most for a UA freshman.

She wants the D

The saying is pretty cliché, but there’s a reason it has endured: Defense wins championships. Arizona is rated second in the country by kenpom.com, one spot ahead of West No. 1 Wisconsin, because of its defense. The Badgers’ adjusted offensive efficiency is first, while their adjusted defensive efficiency is 41st. Arizona is seventh in offense and third in defense, behind only Kentucky and Virginia. If the Wildcats shut down Xavier and Wisconsin or North Carolina on defense, then their sometimes iffy offense won’t even matter. Defense, playing hard and getting rebounds are things you can always rely on, even if shots aren’t falling.


Three ways to miss it: 

Lack of concentration

Arizona may be 33-3, but those three losses have all held a common theme: a lack of concentration. The Wildcats lost to lowly teams Oregon State, ASU and UNLV by compounding turnovers with poor shot selection and a generally subpar defense. Even in some of the wins, Arizona puts together a horrible first half and then a dominant second half. Just look at the game against Ohio State on Saturday. Arizona was up by one point at halftime and won by 15 points. That kind of spotty performance can’t happen against Xavier and in the potential revenge game with Wisconsin.

York and Pitts go cold

It’s no secret that Arizona doesn’t have a ton of threats from beyond the arc. Guards Gabe York and Elliott Pitts are arguably the top two shooters for the Wildcats and have been on a relative hot streak as of late. In particular, York is coming off one of his best games as a Wildcat. Arizona desperately needs both of them to hit shots, especially against zone defenses. Just ask Ohio State how deadly Arizona is when 3-pointers are hitting at a high clip. If York and Pitts go cold, advancing to the Final Four could be a pipe dream for Arizona.

Foul trouble

While Arizona won’t play in front of a full Pac-12 Conference official crew, that doesn’t mean the Wildcats can get cavalier with their personal fouls. Brandon Ashley fouled out against Ohio State, but the rest of the ’Cats stepped up and shut the door on the Buckeyes. Having someone like Ashley or Kaleb Tarczewski get into early foul trouble, as they have at times, could be too much to overcome against top talent. Even worse, if T.J. McConnell fouls out, Arizona could easily see its season end. An Arizona team out of foul trouble can go all the way. An Arizona team in foul trouble could lose quickly.

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter and Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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