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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona hosts Colorado in pivotal Pac-12 game

Colin Darland
The Arizona Wildcats took on the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, January 12, 2012 at Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo.

Arizona and Colorado are tied for the Pac-12 Conference lead in defensive field goal percentage. The Buffs and Wildcats also sit tied for second and third, respectively, in the conference standings, and only one point separated the two teams last time they collided in Boulder, Colo., on Jan. 21.

But the likeness between the two schools at this point in the season is much more than a coincidence, and that should be evident when they meet tonight at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

Sean Miller and CU head coach Tad Boyle have a longstanding relationship developed through the coaching circuit, and that friendship is evident in their similar philosophies and styles of play.

“We tend to, in many ways, kind of mirror each other,” Miller said of Arizona and Colorado.

The most striking similarity lies in how both teams defend, evidenced by the fact that they each allow opponents to shoot only 39.8 percent from the field. The Wildcats and Buffaloes also rank first and second in the conference, respectively, in defensive 3-point percentage.

Those numbers are a direct result of the defensive principles predicated on disciplined pressure and pinpoint positioning that Miller and Boyle have instilled in their respective teams.

“I’ve known Sean for a while now and I think he’s got a defensive philosophy that is very similar to ours,” Boyle said. “We feel like we try to do the same thing, philosophically. We don’t want to break down and give the opponent easy baskets. The thing about playing Arizona is that they don’t break down defensively and I think that’s half the battle of being a good defensive team.”

Then there are the personnel similarities. Neither Arizona nor Colorado has a major superstar, and shooting guards Kyle Fogg and Carlon Brown are doing their part to fill that void.

Miller called Brown, a former Utah transfer, “by far one of our conference’s best players,” but neither he nor Fogg would be confused with a superstar.

Both Colorado and Arizona each start two freshmen and two seniors as well. Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson came to college with far more hype than CU freshmen Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker, but their production suggests otherwise.

“They have some freshmen that maybe didn’t enter Colorado on a McDonald’s All-American list but they’re playing as well as some of the best freshmen in the country,” Miller said.

Overall both teams are fairly undersized and rely on balanced scoring, tough defense and team rebounding. Although the differences between school colors aren’t tough to distinguish, Arizona and Colorado’s play tonight in McKale Center might be.

“We have a lot of similarities in our style of play and our personnel because we’re more forward and guard heavy than we are true post players,” Miller said.

Despite their parallels, one team has to come out on top on Thursday in McKale Center and emerge as the big brother of the eerily similar squads.

“They’re a good team. We just didn’t have some balls bounce our way, but overall we were in the game so we’re looking to get a win this time,” Johnson said. “Brown really had his way with our defense and so did Dinwiddie, so I know me and Fogg personally want to see them again. They had a great atmosphere up at their place so hopefully we can show them what the real atmosphere is like here.”

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