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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats offense ready to roll against mid major Boise State

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Tyler Baker

Arizona guard Gabe York (1) attempts a fadeaway jumper in McKale Center during Arizona’s exhibition against Chico State on Nov. 8. York hit two 3-pointers in the Wildcats’ 90-60 victory over Bradley on Nov. 16.

After cruising to double-digit victories in each of its first two games this season, Arizona men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller expects more of a challenge Thursday night when the Wildcats host Boise State.

The matchup, slated to tip off at 6:30 p.m., is part of the DirecTV Wooden Legacy—a tournament that officially takes place in Southern California next weekend.

No. 12 Arizona is coming off a 90-60 win over Bradley in which freshman Allonzo Trier led the team with 22 points. Four other players scored in double digits and the Wildcats collectively shot 54 percent from the field.

“So much of these games is about learning,” Miller said after the win. “I thought our team grew up [Monday night] and [we] learned a lot about ourselves.”

The victory over Bradley served as a tune-up for Arizona before it takes on the reigning Mountain West Conference champion Broncos.

Boise State enters Thursday with one loss already under its belt—a 74-72 defeat at the hands of Montana—but the Broncos feature no shortage of horsepower.

Led by sixth-year head coach Leon Rice, Boise State reached the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last season before falling to Dayton in a close loss.

“We think they’re one of the best teams in the country,” Miller said of Boise State. “They have a great coach and a really terrific offensive system.”

Three starters return from a team that finished 25-9, including preseason All-Mountain West First Team members Anthony Drmic and James Webb III. Drmic plays on the wing while Webb is a traditional power forward.

Drmic, a redshirt senior, led Boise State in scoring each of his first three seasons. The Australian native suffered a season-ending ankle injury last year, but was granted a fifth year of eligibility.

Drmic and Webb both scored 22 points to lead the Broncos to a 101-81 victory over NAU on Monday night. Webb, a 6-foot-9 junior, also recorded 11 rebounds to earn a double-double.

Boise State’s biggest trouble against Arizona may come on the defensive side of the ball. While two games is a small sample size, the Broncos had trouble slowing down a pair of mid-major offenses.

Expect the Broncos to come out in a zone defense—the preferred method from most schools of slowing down Miller’s system.

The Wildcats will need to spread the ball around the perimeter and thus make 3-point attempts to combat the zone.

Arizona struggled mightily from behind the arc in the first half of the Bradley game, making just one of nine attempts. The Wildcats heated up in the second half, however, when Gabe York drained a pair of 3s, followed by an outside make from Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

“We have a good shooting team,” Miller said after the game. “Sometimes you get off to a really hot streak shooting the ball, but deep down as a coach, you know you’re not a very good shooting team and eventually that plays itself out.”

But Miller insisted that isn’t the case.

“We can shoot. It’s a matter of us settling in, taking good ones, getting a lot of the new guys more game experience,” he said.

Attacking the rim has thus far been Arizona’s forte, with Trier and Ryan Anderson the leading instigators of drawing contact. If the Wildcats can add a balanced shooting attack, Arizona may just buck the Broncos without much of a fight.

The game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.


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