Fresno St.-Arizona Preview
Arizona responded in the wake of adversity with an impressive road victory, though coach Sean Miller insists his squad still has plenty of work to do on its homestand.
As they continue to adjust without Kaleb Tarczewski, the 13th-ranked Wildcats will try to extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 43 on Wednesday night against Fresno State.
Tarczewski averaged 8.6 points and was second on the team with 7.2 rebounds per game before going down in the Wooden Legacy tournament opener against Santa Clara on Nov. 26. Arizona learned prior to Saturday's test at then-No. 13 Gonzaga that the 7-foot center would miss at least four weeks with a stress reaction and strained muscle in his foot.
After suffering a 69-65 loss to Providence in their first game without the four-year starter, the Wildcats (7-1) bounced back with wins over Boise State and Gonzaga.
Gabe York stepped up by scoring 14 of his 18 points in the second half Saturday, Allonzo Trier added 14 and Ryan Anderson had 13 as Arizona overcame a 10-point halftime deficit.
Arizona became the first nonconference opponent to win in Spokane since 2012 and handed the Bulldogs only their 13th home loss since the McCarthey Athletic Center opened in 2004.
“The fact that we played up here, I think will make us more battle-tested for our own conference,” Miller said. “I hope that it gives us a confidence boost at a really crucial time because when you lose a key player, it doesn't always go smooth right away.”
Miller's club now opens a five-game homestand before traveling to rival Arizona State in the Pac-12 opener Jan. 3. The Wildcats haven't lost in Tucson since a 77-69 loss to California on Feb. 10, 2013, and haven't dropped a nonconference contest there since a 65-54 loss to Bucknell on March 14, 2012.
“I think that we have to be careful because we're playing Fresno State and we still have a lot of work to do,” Miller said. “But I think that (the Gonzaga trip) is something for us to build on in many, many ways.”
The Bulldogs (6-2) look to regroup after dropping their last two games against Division I opponents. They shot a season-worst 34.8 percent in Saturday's 77-65 loss at Cal Poly.
Cezar Guerrero finished with 15 points and Torren Jones added 13, but Marvelle Harris had 12 on 5-of-20 shooting – including 1 for 10 from 3-point range. The Mountain West Conference preseason player of the year entered the contest averaging a team-high 20.0 points.
“We've got to spend more time in the gym working on our shooting,” coach Rodney Terry told the team's official website.
It isn't going to be much easier against an Arizona team that ranks first among Pac-12 teams in defensive scoring (62.9) and second in defensive 3-point percentage (29.1). The Wildcats limited Gonzaga to 1 of 13 from the floor over the final 11:25.
Fresno State has struggled defensively, allowing 75.7 points per game over its last three. The Bulldogs gave up their highest field-goal percentage (50.0) of the season Saturday.
Arizona evened this all-time series at 3-3 with a 69-50 home win in December 2007.
Fresno State has dropped 17 straight games against ranked opponents dating to February 2002 but challenged a Pac-12 team on the road in its only one this season. The Bulldogs lost 78-73 at then-No. 15 Oregon on Nov. 30 after trailing by as many as 19 in the second half, when Harris scored all 18 of his points.