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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats face fork in the road in season against Mountain West opponents

Jesus Barrera
Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts gives instructions to her players in McKale Center on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The Wildcats are set to face Utah and Colorado at home.

Coming off two double-digit losses in the Pacific Northwest against Washington State and Washington, the Arizona women’s basketball team will return home and look to rebound against the Utah Utes and Colorado Buffaloes.

The Wildcats (10-6, 1-2) have lost three of their last four games, but they have fared well in McKale Center.

“We want McKale to be a tough place to play in and we want to make sure our fans leave the arena feeling good about that,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said.

Arizona is 7-1 at home this season, including a win over the California Golden Bears, who were ranked No. 21 at the time. The team’s lone loss was to the Stanford Cardinal who are ranked No. 11 in the country.

Despite the home success, however, the Wildcats’ recent struggles have led them to a 1-2 Pac-12 Conference record throughout the first couple weeks of conference play. Only Oregon and Colorado have a worse record and it has dampened what was a historical start to the season for the Wildcats.

It also makes this upcoming home stand critical for Arizona. Two wins could move them up near the top of the conference, while two losses would put the Wildcats in a significant hole for the rest of the season.

The first game of the home stand is on Friday against the Utah Utes.

The Utes have been a surprising team this season. They were picked to finish No. 11 in the Pac-12 Conference Preseason Media Poll, but through the first couple weeks of conference play they stand with an 11-4 overall record and a 3-1 conference record, which means they are tied for second in the Pac-12. It’s also the best start for the program since it joined the conference.

They are led by Emily Potter, who averages a double-double with nearly 17 points and 12 rebounds per game, and guards Paige Crozon and Katie Kulok. Kulok leads the conference in three-point shooting with a 46.4 three-point percentage, while Crozon is seventh in the conference in scoring, with 15.8 points per game, and has shot 39 percent from behind the arc.

Potter, plus the team’s effectiveness from the perimeter, gives the Utes a formidable inside-outside attack, which has been a major reason for the team’s unexpected ascendance to the top of the conference.

Arizona will have to find a way to slow them down. Tipoff against Utah is at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats will then square off against Colorado on Sunday afternoon.

The Buffaloes are just 5-10 this season and have lost all four of their conference games, as well as six of their last seven games.

The losses have piled up, but if there is any hope for Colorado to get back to its winning ways, this may be its best chance. The Buffaloes have won all four games they have played in McKale Center since they joined the conference in 2011.

We’ll see if the Wildcats can buck that trend. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.

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