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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Key matchups

    Sure, Memphis has a big edge in depth and will have a raucous crowd behind it that has led the Tigers to 37 wins in a row in FedEx Forum, the second-longest streak in the nation.

    But stars win big games, and these three individual matchups will determine how this showdown falls:

    The freshman phenoms

    Lottery teams everywhere will be flocking to Memphis to take a look at this head-to-head battle between Arizona guard Jerryd Baylesss – currently projected by nbadraft.net to go No. 6 overall – and Memphis guard Derrick Rose – currently pegged at No. 2.

    “”I think both guys will play well,”” Memphis head coach John Calipari said of the former McDonald’s All-Americans. “”I’ve watched enough to see Jerryd is wow, I’m blown away by his ability to get shots and make shots, to catch and shoot as a freshman.

    “”Then I’m amazed at Derrick Rose. Everyday I’m thankful I get a chance to coach the kid because Derrick Rose is one of the humble, great players I’ve been around.””

    Rose, an athletic point guard with size, speed and shooting ability, is a player his teammates love to be around, as he makes everybody better.

    “”If he has to take over the game he will,”” Calipari said. “”He’s the greatest competitor and a great teammate with an unbelievable will to win.””

    Although talking about Rose, Calipari very well could have been talking about Bayless, who shares the same competitiveness, will to win and ability to take over a game, like he did in leading the Wildcats’ 20-point come-from-behind win over then-No. 9 Texas A&M and the late comeback against Illinois.

    A big game from either player would likely do wonders for his draft stock but more importantly would put his team in line for a win.

    The beasts

    The single most important element in the game for Arizona could involve how well UA forward Jordan Hill handles Memphis forward Joey Dorsey.

    “”Those guys, Hill is important for them, and Dorsey is important for us,”” Calipari said. “”It’s probably the same kind of deal.””

    Dorsey, a load at 6-foot-9 and 265 pounds, pushed around Georgetown’s preseason All-American center Roy Hibbert last week, holding him to six points and six rebounds. Last year’s Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Dorsey averages 8.1 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds per game and outweighs Hill by about 40 pounds.

    Having averaged 13.0 rebounds per game in his past four contests after averaging 4.4 in his first seven, Hill needs to keep Dorsey off the boards and help the Wildcats continue their strong rebounding of late.

    For that to happen, Hill must stay on the floor. In Arizona’s showdown against then-No. 4 Kansas, Hill picked up two quick fouls in the first half and did not make an appreciable impact in the game.

    A patchwork big man rotation of forwards Bret Brielmaier and Jamelle Horne and center Kirk Walters held their own inside, but this time around Brielmaier is questionable with a separated shoulder, Walters hasn’t played serious minutes in weeks and Horne is still a freshman.

    That means if Hill gets in foul trouble, the Wildcats will be in big trouble down low.

    “”Hill gives them a presence some of the teams we’ve played didn’t have,”” Calipari said. “”It negates what we have as an advantage.””

    Hill needs to negate Dorsey’s advantage for Arizona to have a realistic chance.

    The shooting stars

    UA forward Chase Budinger is a big-game player, but so is Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts.

    Douglas-Roberts took over the Tigers’ Dec. 22 win over then-No. 5 Georgetown, scoring a team-high 24. In his team’s biggest test of the year, Budinger also dominated, scoring a team season-high 27 Nov. 25 at then-No. 4 Kansas.

    Budinger enters the game slumping to 10.8 points per game in his past four contests, but Douglas-Roberts was not playing well either going into the Hoya game last week.

    Both players have the ability to take over this game, which could end up being the difference.

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