Long Beach St.-Arizona Preview
After a poor rebounding display in its opener, Arizona appears to have worked out the kinks.
The Wildcats will now try to control the boards against Long Beach State, which couldn't keep its last opponent off the glass.
Looking to open 3-0 for a third consecutive season, No. 10 Arizona squares off against the scuffling 49ers at home Monday night.
While the Wildcats pulled out an 82-73 win over Charleston Southern last Sunday despite getting outrebounded 34-31, they picked up the pace in a 72-51 victory over UTEP on Thursday.
Arizona dominated the battle of the boards by 35-15 margin, while getting a game-high 17 points from Mark Lyons and limiting the Miners to 36.4 percent from the field.
"We challenge our young frontcourt players," coach Sean Miller said. "We were disappointed in our effort against Charleston Southern and I think we responded across the board."
Freshman Grant Jerrett pulled down seven rebounds while fellow big men Solomon Hill and Kaleb Tarczewski each had six.
"Last game, we didn't get as many rebounds as we normally should, so Coach got on us," Jerrett said. "That's basically it. We wanted to show that we could rebound."
The Wildcats could be in for another big day on the glass against Long Beach State (1-2), which had its 23-game home winning streak come to an end with a 78-63 loss to No. 11 North Carolina on Friday. The 49ers were outrebounded 55-39 in allowing their highest rebounding total since 2008.
Depth also seems to be a concern for Long Beach State with freshman guard Branford Jones out due to a leg injury. The 49ers have gotten a total of 17 points from their reserves in the last two games.
Senior James Ennis had a team-high 18 points Friday while fellow guard Mike Caffey scored 14 but shot 5 of 21 from the field.
"It sounds like an excuse, but I thought Branford's injury was really tough (Friday) because Mike had to play too many minutes," coach Dan Monson said.
"Mike is the only guy that can really bounce the ball and create for others and we needed a second guy to come in and play beside him and relieve him some. We're going to have to figure that out."
Long Beach State has lost 11 of 12 road games against non-conference opponents, including its last seven.
In addition to its improved effort on the glass, Arizona is 36 of 45 (80.0 percent) from the free-throw line for one of the best marks in the country.
"I really like the Arizona team," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "I think they have a chance to compete for (it) all if they get better down the stretch."
Arizona has won 17 of 19 home contests against non-conference foes while giving up an average of 58.2 points.
The 49ers have dropped all three matchups with the Wildcats by an average of 31.0 points, with the teams last meeting in 1995.