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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Vegas spotlight shines on ‘Cats

Now that the cupcake teams are out the way, its time for the Arizona basketball team to eat.

The game that everyone has circled on the schedule is just about here — Arizona against No. 6 Kansas.

Being from Las Vegas, I’ve declared that this is the best Thanksgiving ever.

It just so happens that while I’m at home this Thanksgiving in Las Vegas, Sean Miller and the Arizona basketball will be making a visit.

For the last few weeks I’ve been anxious to make that six hour drive back home to Las Vegas, chow down on some my grandma’s turkey, ham and dressing, but most of all anxious to see if Arizona basketball is really back .

It doesn’t get any better than this, two of college basketball’s most storied schools matching up in the ultimate basketball city.

“”I’m really excited to go to Vegas,”” said junior guard Kyle Fogg after Arizona’s win against Bethune-Cookman. “”We got a really good team in Santa Clara on Friday, I’m definitely excited for this weekend to see how good we can really be.””

Yes, the Wildcats have to play Santa Clara on Friday, but the game that really matters is Saturday against the Jayhawks.

Every big-time basketball player has played a meaningful game in Las Vegas, a city where a lot significant basketball has been played.

The 1991 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels were one of the greatest college basketball teams to ever play.

Every summer teenagers, from around the country, travel to Las Vegas to prove to their worthy of college basketball scholarships in AAU tournaments, including majority of the players on the UA roster.

NBA players have gathered each summer at the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus for USA basketball training, hoping to be chosen to represent the next Olympic team.

In 2007, the NBA All-Star game was even played in Las Vegas, although there is no professional team in the city.

Simply put, Las Vegas is a basketball city, where the lights are brighter and the best basketball players have had to prove themselves one point or another.

This is the chance, under the brightest lights on ESPN for Arizona basketball to show the country that the first four games weren’t a fluke.

This weekend Arizona basketball team has a chance to prove to the country that it’s truly back and that the last four years were a mere bump in the road.

That Arizona should be the reason people back East should stay up to watch West Coast basketball, like the Lute Olson days. It’s even a way to get back the fans that have bailed, which is evident by the empty seats at McKale Center to start the season.

Overall, the casual college basketball fan has come to the conclusion that Arizona has fallen off the last few years and this could be the chance to make them reconsider.

“”I think the trip will help us a lot, it’s going to really define where we’re at right now,”” said forward Jesse Perry.

Not only will it define where the team is at but what players will be reliable when the lights are brighter.

Will Derrick Williams be as dominate against better competition?

Is this the game that point guard Momo Jones finally elevates his game, and shows that in the first four games have just been a case of him playing down to the competition?

Can Brendon Lavender still have the same confidence in his jump shot off the bench against tougher defenders?

Will Kyryl Natyazhko and Perry be able to be in the game against stronger frontcourts?

How will Sean Miller fare against Bill Self?

This weekend will not make or break the season, but it will leave a lasting impression around the country.

There are so many questions early in the season and now the stage is set. The lights will be brighter than they’ve been at McKale center the first four games.  

Now everyone will find out if Arizona is really this good or if the first four games we’re a fluke.

“”We’ll see this weekend,”” Miller said.

— Vince Balestreri is a communications senior. He can be reached at

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