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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Utah’s Nevill makes for a tall task against Hill

    UA forward Jordan Hill leaps for a layup duing practice Thursday evening in AmericanAirlines Arena. Hill and Utah center Luke Nevill should provide an interesting matchup during Fridays game between the No. 12 seed Wildcats and the No. 5 seed Utes.
    UA forward Jordan Hill leaps for a layup duing practice Thursday evening in AmericanAirlines Arena. Hill and Utah center Luke Nevill should provide an interesting matchup during Friday’s game between the No. 12 seed Wildcats and the No. 5 seed Utes.

    Opponent Analysis

    MIAMI – The NCAA Tournament isn’t a huge deal in Australia.

    But it is in America. And so is Luke Nevill -ÿliterally.

    Nevill is one of America’s – and Australia’s – most dominant big men in college basketball, although there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of him. He is a 7-foot-2, 265-pounder redshirt senior from Perth, Australia.

    His mother, Joyce Nevill, flew into Salt Lake City, Utah, for his Senior Day game against Texas Christian on March 7. On Friday at 4:10 p.m., she’ll get to see her son go head to head against 6-foor-10, 235-pound forward Jordan Hill and No. 12-seed Arizona (19-13) in AmericanAirlines Arena.

    “”She just stayed on,”” Nevill said of his mother’s trip to America, “”and she’s going to stay on until the Final Four.””

    Seeing Luke play in a nationally-hyped tournament like this one will be a real treat for Joyce. She certainly wouldn’t be able to take in the experience in the capacity from home.

    “”Last time I was back in Australia before I went to college, no, we didn’t see any coverage (of the NCAA Tournament),”” Luke said. “”You’d see the highlights, but besides that, we don’t see any tournament games.

    “”So it’s not a huge deal over there,”” he added. “”But living here for five years, you know, it has become a huge deal to me, and definitely to Utah and the program. I take great pride in making the tournament, and it’s a huge accomplishment for us as seniors to be able to do that.””

    Clearly, Nevill has big plans for his No. 5-seed Utes (24-9). And why wouldn’t he? He leads the Mountain West Conference in rebounds (9.1 per game), and is third in scoring (16.9 points per game).

    But where there is domination, there is also modesty.

    “”There will be games where I won’t be the main offensive guy,”” he said. “”I’ll be double-teamed. The ball will go outside, and we’ll knock down shots. … I don’t need to have, you know, a stellar game offensively for us to be successful.””

    But modesty works both ways.

    Jordan Hill went up against Santa Clara’s John Bryant, who is 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, earlier this season. He has also bodied up against 6-foot-10, 250-pound Aron Baynes of Washington State.

    On top of that, Hill has experience going up against great post players in Jeff Pendergraph (6-foot-9, 240 pounds) and John Brockman (6-foot-7, 255 pounds).

    Three times last year, he played against Stanford’s 7-foot twins, Brook and Robin Lopez, who are now in the NBA.

    But if you ask Hill about individually matching up with almost any player, Hill will tell you he fears no one. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect their game.

    “”We’ve all seen a good amount of clips on him,”” Hill said of Nevill. “”He’s a pretty good player. He’s real long, real big – way bigger than me – so it’s going to be a good matchup between me and him. … He will be the biggest I’ve played against this season. It’s going to be a good challenge for me and a good challenge for him.””

    But Utah head coach Jim Boylen said his team doesn’t focus on individual matchups. His team boasts four players who average double digits in scoring, so there always seems to be a way to get the ball in the basket.

    On the flip side, Arizona’s 1-1-3 zone defense gives Hill a chance to stay out of foul trouble.

    “”He’s not their only option, but gosh, when you’re 7-2, 270 pounds, that’s a great place to start,”” UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said of Nevill. “”He definitely commands your attention, and they like to play through him.

    “”He moves OK,”” Pennell added. “”And he’s very skilled around the goal; he uses either hand real well. Again, just his size takes up so much space that he’s difficult to match up with.””

    Nevill and Hill will most certainly have a lot on their respective plates as they try to push their teams through the first round of the tournament.

    There’s obviously a lot of incentive for both teams to do well, but there may be more for Nevill; after all, he is playing for two countries.

    “”It wasn’t a big deal before,”” Nevill said of the NCAA Tournament. “”But it’s definitely a big deal now.””

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