East Tennessee State Preview
Arizona begins play at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii on Saturday against East Tennessee State. The biggest obstacle the Wildcats may have to overcome on their opening day is distraction, courtesy of the picturesque beaches. The Buccaneers are unlikely to put up much of a fight. ETSU enters the game with a 2-7 record, including four consecutive losses.
Arizona is the fifth BCS conference opponent ETSU has faced. The Buccaneers were blown out by at least 16 points in each of the four previous match-ups. The Wildcats and Buccaneers have Charleston Southern as a common opponent. ETSU has actually played them twice. The Buccaneers notched their only victory over a Division I school when they beat Charleston Southern 59-57 in November. However, they lost the rematch last week by 22 points.
Freshman forward Lester Wilson has been ETSUís best player. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging nearly 18 points and seven boards. However, Wilsonís gaudy numbers have come as a result of jacking up more than 15 shots per game. He shoots a not-so-impressive 42% from the field. Welcome back freshmen:
Arizonaís much-ballyhooed trio of freshmen post players has seen its production dip recently. In fact, for three straight games against Southern Miss, Clemson, and Florida, none of the freshmen scored in double figures. In two of those match-ups, they didnít even combine for 10 points. The higher level of competition likely played a role. The Wildcats struggled to win each of those games while failing to eclipse 66 points.
All of that changed earlier this week against Oral Roberts. The freshmen stars stepped up in a big way. They combined for 37 points, despite limited playing time for Kaleb Tarczewski due to foul trouble. Grant Jerrett finally honed his potential, scoring a season-high 15 points on 6 for 8 shooting. Brandon Ashley, meanwhile, broke out of a mini-slump with 14 points, six rebounds, and three blocks. Outlook:
Arizonaís RPI is the only thing that may drop faster than its opponent (RealTime RPI rates ETSU 313th). This contest should be over early for all intents and purposes. The Buccaneers better hope the Wildcats are unaware of ETSUís upset win over Arizona in the 1992 NCAA tournament ; if the Wildcats attempt to exact a measure of revenge, this game could get really ugly.