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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Preview: Arizona plays Texas in Tulsa

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team took on the Memphis Tigers in second round action of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 18 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. At the half, the Wildcats lead 41-38.

TULSA, Okla. – There’s no talk of an underdog, no hints that either the Arizona Wildcats or the Texas Longhorns view Sunday’s third-round NCAA Tournament game as anything other than another game — another game that will end the season for someone.

The No. 5 seed Wildcats take on the No. 4 seed Longhorns in Tulsa, Okla., with an expected 3:10 p.m. Pacific Time tip.

“”We just approach it as just another game in the season trying to move on,”” UA point guard Momo Jones said. “”You can’t look at it as a bigger game than another one.

“”We could be playing Richmond or Morehead State, and have to approach it the same way.””

They two teams are in very similar positions with very similar strategies.

Arizona sophomore Derrick Williams plays childhood friend in sophomore Jordan Hamilton, both players coming in with 19-point, eight-rebound averages. Neither squad will play a gimmicky defense, both relying upon their man-based, help defenses that lead each team to the same 28-7 record.

Hamilton is a shoot now and shoot later type of offensive weapon. Arizona’s Solomon Hill will likely get the defensive assignment on the 6-foot-7, 220 pound Longhorn.

Williams, who played AAU ball with Hamilton throughout his high school years, has seen the hot-shooting threat first-hand.

“”Only thing I can say to my teammates is ‘hand down, man down,'”” Williams said. “”If you don’t have a hand up, he’s going to shoot it and make it every time. As soon as he makes his first couple, it’s going to be a long night if you don’t have a hand up.””

But the biggest key to Texas is its size. Freshman big man Tristan Thompson averages 13 points and eight rebounds per outing, while hard-nosed forward Gary Johnson will take the brunt of the assignment on Arizona’s Williams.

“”I’m going to be on an island,”” Johnson said.

Help will come, however, with Thompson’s shot-blocking from the weakside being a threat for Williams and other Arizona penetrators. The Wildcats hope they can get Thompson in foul trouble, which will help take away the point paints that make him so dangerous.

If not, Williams will be getting help via double teams in the post. Against Memphis, Williams had one of his better defensive games of the year, controlling the paint while also staying out of foul trouble.

“”Pretty much, it’s just helping out, especially when they dump it down,”” UA point guard Jordin Mayes said of defending the Texas bigs. “”We just have to try to box (Thompson) out and keep him out of the paint.

“”Coach always says, on the defensive end, show your hands and the ref won’t call the fouls,”” he added. “”That’s what he’s (Williams) been doing.””


Key for Arizona

Rebounding with the Longhorns — The Wildcats need to control the glass, especially on missed shots, to stay with a team that head coach Sean Miller calls the most physical the Wildcats have faced yet.

“”Tristan Thompson alone … he might be the nation’s best offensive rebounder,”” Miller said. “”You can make the argument they’re the best defensive team in the country, statistically.””

Contain Jordan Hamilton — Friend Derrick Williams says Hamilton looks to go for 40 points every time he steps onto the court. If the Wildcats aren’t careful, the streaky shooter could put an end to their tournament run.

“”Just finding him in transition will be the biggest thing,”” UA forward Solomon Hill said, “”because he’s capable of going from nine to 12 any given night. He’s by far their best 3-point shooter.””


Key for Texas

Stopping Derrick Williams — Gary Johnson will likely see time on Williams, but if he gets into foul trouble expect Tristan Thompson to also get a crack at Arizona’s leading scorer. Sean Miller doesn’t expect they’ll go with any gimmicky defenses either.

“”With their defensive numbers and who they are, they’re going to do the same thing against Arizona that they’ve done the whole season,”” Miller said. “”It would make no sense to change. I don’t think they have to wrinkle anything up.””

Defensive point of attack — Look for the Longhorns, like Arizona, to pressure the ball beyond the 3-point line. That could help limit Williams’ touches in the paint and also cause turnovers to create transition buckets.

“”(We have to) try to stop the guard, Momo Jones, bringing the ball up the court,”” Hamilton said. “”Once we interrupt him, it’ll be good for our team.””

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