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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 3 Arizona welcomes Oakland for final non-conference home game

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat

After Arizona men’s basketball aced its first test during finals, the Wildcats host Oakland to wrap up the semester.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks, No. 3 Arizona (10-0) hosts Oakland (4-6).

The Golden Grizzlies are the second straight team from Michigan that the Wildcats have played during finals, after beating UM 80-53 on Saturday.

“This one of those games where it’s our last non conference home game, our players are juggling a lot of different things academically,” UA men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller said. “Some of our guys are finished, some are finishing up, then we have several that have more to come this week, so you know how it is when you’re going through final exams and final papers, it can be draining.”

Miller said he gave the Wildcats Sunday off to focus on school.

“It gets brutal when you’re playing games and practicing and it’s finals week and you’re writing papers,” UA point guard T.J. McConnell said. “It can be pretty stressful for anyone, as a regular student, for finals and papers, but just add basketball into that and I don’t think very many people can imagine what it’s like.”

While McConnell is a fifth year senior, he said this semester his school work load is as heavy as the other players and will be lighter next semester.

True freshman forward Craig Victor said the end of the semester isn’t that stressful because of the academic support the UA provides to its athletes.

“I would just say it’s all new to me, you know, being in college, finals week is a major deal,” Victor said. “Trying to put that in with basketball is kind of hard, but we have the people around us to make sure we’re fine, so it’s no big stress for me.”

While many Pac-12 teams are playing lighter schedules at the end of the semester or quarter, Arizona played two last week, have two this week and then play UNLV on December 23 to get a big gap before they open conference play against ASU on January 4.

“We now have ten games behind us, but I think we’re really in kind of a crucial couple of week period of time,” Miller said. “These three games, two of which are on the road, they’re very, very big games towards our improvement and obviously we want to cap off our non conference season the right way.”

Against Oakland, the Wildcats will put their 28-game home winning streak and their 37 game nonconference regular season win streak on the line. The Golden Grizzlies are 1-9 in their last 10 road non-conference games.

Oakland is also 7-72 against Power 5 Conference teams and 2-36 against ranked teams. The Golden Grizzlies are facing six opponents from the Power 5 Conferences, their most since the 2010-11 season when they faced eight, including one in the NCAA tournament.

“They’ve done that forever, that’s their philosophy,” Miller said about Oakland’s scheduling.

Oakland was picked to finish seventh in the Preseason Horizon League Poll.

At 16.3 points per game, center Corey Petros leads Oakland in scoring and rebounding with 8.4 rebounds per game, which is first in the Horizon League. Point guard Kahlil Felder, averages 7.3 assists per game, first in the Horizon League, and he leads the NCAA with 39 minutes per game.

“They have a tremendous low post player, a very good point guard,” Miller said. “They shoot the three similar to Michigan.”

On December 12, 2011, the Wildcats beat the Golden Grizzlies 85-73 in their only other match-up. Miller said he is friends with Oakland head coach Greg Kampe, who has Won 523 games, 19th among active coaches.

“He’s a coaches’ coach,” Miller said. “We respect him a great deal and you know you’re always going to get a quality team and a team that’s really going to be well coached, especially on offense.”

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