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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Discipline is key for W-Hoops against Utah

The Arizona women’s basketball team will face the Utah Utes at 7 p.m. in its first meeting with Utah since the school joined the Pac-12 Conference.

The Wildcats will enter the game with a record of 13-4, but a conference record of just 2-3 after splitting a series against Oregon and Oregon State. Head coach Niya Butts understands the importance of gaining ground in the deep Pac-12 conference, and that starts with a win over Utah.

“Against Utah we have got to be very disciplined,” Butts said. “They are a disciplined team, they really run their offense well, and they don’t turn the ball over very much, so we have to stay solid defensively.”

The Wildcats appear to have a home court advantage in McKale Center where they have a 6-1 record this season, while the Utes have posted a 1-4 road record. The up-tempo Arizona offense averages 10 more points per game and has made almost 40 more 3-pointers than Utah to go along with 8.8 steals per game thus far this season. Still, Butts said the Wildcats will need more.

“We’ve got to rebound, and we’ve got to defend, especially if you’re not shooting 7-10 from the three-point line,” Butts said. “The one thing about this team, they’re not scoring a lot of points. But their opponents aren’t scoring a lot of points either.”

The biggest problem for the Wildcats may not be rebounding — they hold a 1.8 rebound per game advantage — but the gritty way the Utes play their games. Utah only has an 8-8 record, but holds opponents to just 52.8 points per game, which would be the second-lowest scoring total of the season for the Wildcats. Arizona has the fourth-highest scoring offense in the Pac-12 at 70.4 points per game.

“Anytime you get styles that vary, you don’t like it, because you have to change a little bit of what you do and how you play,” Butts said. “We try not to do that very much at all, we understand that we are a very up-tempo type of team, and that’s the way we want to play.”

The Utes will have to try and contain junior guard Davellyn Whyte, who is second in the Pac-12 averaging 18.9 points per game. But they might want to keep an eye on freshman guard Erin Butler, who has averaged 28.5 minutes per game in the last two games, one of which she broke out for 23 points on 7-for-10 shooting from 3.

Having a shooter like Butler helps the Arizona offense, Butts said.

“It stretches the defense, makes you a little bit harder to guard,” she said. “The thing is, when you can shoot the ball well, it always adds another dimension to the team.”

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