Kansas St.-Arizona Preview

Arizona coach Sean Miller is still looking for a complete performance and probably couldn’t find a more ideal time to get that from his team than in its next game.

The competition is expected to ramp up for the third-ranked squad in its final two days at the Maui Invitational, beginning with Tuesday’s semifinal matchup against Kansas State.

Arizona has gotten off to slow starts in three of its first four games and trailed with less than eight minutes to play against UC Irvine in a 71-54 win Wednesday before heading to Hawaii. It led Missouri by just two points late in the first half in their Maui opener Monday before pulling away for a 72-53 victory.

"That initial surge out of the gates of playing well at both ends, I don’t know if we’ve really done that," Miller said. "I can also flip it and make it a positive, because like every team at this time of the year, you’re in search of getting better and improving. Today is another step for our team."

Arizona (4-0) might need a better start against Kansas State (3-1) to stay unbeaten and advance to Wednesday night’s championship game.

Arizona could also use another strong performance off the bench from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting and six rebounds in the win over Missouri. The sophomore forward is averaging a team-best 15.8 points on 69.0 percent shooting and 6.0 rebounds.

"We’ve decided on a chemistry perspective and maybe getting more balance on offense, that not starting him give us that energy that everyone loves to have off the bench," Miller said.

After struggling at Long Beach State on Friday, Kansas State seemed to have a good handle on Purdue in Monday’s opener in Maui but needed some strong play down the stretch to come away with an 88-79 victory.

Kansas State had nearly all of its 20-point, second-half lead erased before tightening defensively down the stretch. Marcus Foster had a season-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and went 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

"I felt in Long Beach we didn’t play as hard as we did tonight," said Foster, who had gone 1 for 13 and finished with five points in a 69-60 road defeat. "That’s what our game is based off of. We played hard and everybody knocked down shots. We’ve just go to do the little things every day and make it hard for teams to score on us."

The Wildcats shot 53.3 percent and made 7 of 18 from 3-point range, markedly better than their 32.8 percent shooting and 3-of-21 effort from beyond the arc in losing to the 49ers.

Arizona has lost eight of 13 all-time matchups with Kansas State but has won the last two meetings with the most recent Nov. 16, 1999, in Tucson.