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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Miller, team reconsider strategy for Las Cruces

Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat The San Diego State Aztecs silenced McKale Center with a 61-57 victory over the Arizona Wildcats on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.

After losing its last two games and struggling offensively, Arizona is looking to rebound tonight at 7 against New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M. It’s Arizona’s first trip to Las Cruces since Dec. 13, 1971, and the Wildcats have lost their last four road games at New Mexico State.

Here’s what to look for during tonight’s game:

Flying Solo

Since Arizona head coach Sean Miller called him out publicly after the Wildcats’ second exhibition game, forward Solomon Hill is quietly putting together a solid season. He’s in the middle of the best stretch of his career, scoring in double digits in each of Arizona’s last four games.

The 6-foot-6 junior has scored 14.3 points per game during that stretch, and is Arizona’s leading scorer by putting up 12 points per game while also grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game and dishing out 2.5 assists.

Shake it up

After Arizona has gotten out to costly slow starts its past two games — the Wildcats went down 21-4 to San Diego State and 7-0 to Mississippi State — Miller hinted that changes to the Wildcats’ starting lineup would be coming.

For the last five games, Jordin Mayes, Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry and Kyryl Natyazhko have made up the starting five. But Miller told the Arizona Daily Star “the same five … will never start another game (together) at Arizona.”

Some candidates to move into the starting lineup are freshman guard Nick Johnson, who would replace Fogg or Mayes, freshman forward Angelo Chol, who would replace Natyazhko, or freshman guard Josiah Turner, who started Arizona’s two exhibition games and the season opener and would replace Mayes.

Sink or swim

The outcome of each of Arizona’s games this season has been directly linked to its 3-point shooting. In their four wins, the Wildcats haven’t shot less than 35 percent from behind the arc. But in its two losses, Arizona never shot more than 25 percent from deep.

Arizona has shot 35 percent from 3-point range on the season, ranking it 131st out of 338 NCAA Division I teams. Mayes and Johnson have been Arizona’s biggest threats from behind the arc this season, shooting 40 percent and 43 percent, respectively. Brendon Lavender has also given Arizona a shooting threat off the bench, knocking down three of his five 3-point shots this season.

When Arizona is hitting its threes, it also opens up more room for senior forward Perry, Natyazhko and Chol to be effective offensively, as well as opening up more driving lanes for the Wildcat guards.

Crash the boards

Arizona has outrebounded its opponent in five of six games this season, but the game against San Diego State was the first time this season the Wildcats had held a rebounding advantage but lost the game.

Since Miller took over before the 2009-10 season, Arizona is 35-9 when holding a rebounding edge over its opponent. Perry leads Arizona on the glass, grabbing 9.3 repounds per game.

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