No. 8 Arizona faces stern test in Brownridge, Santa Clara
Santa Clara guard Jared Brownridge scored 44 points against Arizona last season. He gets another bite at the Wildcats on Thursday night.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats (4-0) will try to find a way to slow down Brownridge when the teams meet in the bracketed part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Arizona escaped with a 75-73 overtime win over the Broncos last season in a tournament in Fullerton, Calif.
“They should have beaten us last year,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “No one knows that more than them.”
That was a career game for Brownridge, but it was no fluke. The senior earned first-team All-West Coast Conference honors last season, finishing 21st nationally in scoring at 20.3 points per game. He is averaging 16.8 points this season and is coming off a 32-point effort Monday night, when Santa Clara (3-2) beat visiting Sacred Heart 84-74.
Miller will likely turn to senior guard Kadeem Allen, the team's best perimeter defender who has made his way back from a left knee sprain. He played 35 minutes Monday night as Arizona finally pulled away to beat Northern Colorado 71-55.
“I think he's back,” Miller said after the game. “He was clearly better tonight. And we needed him.”
Brownridge drains 41 percent of his shots from behind the arc over his career, but he started this season just 4 of 29. He was 7 of 15 on 3-pointers Monday night.
“It was so great to see Jared shoot the basketball and score like we all know he's capable of,” Broncos coach Herb Sendek said. “He was really hitting his shots and that really helped us get going on offense.”
Sendek is in his first season at Santa Clara, and his presence provides another twist to the matchup.
Miller was an assistant to Sendek for a combined five years over stops at Miami of Ohio and North Carolina State. Then they were rivals when Miller took the Arizona head coaching job in 2009 while Sendek was the head coach at Arizona State.
Sendek was fired from ASU after the 2014-15 season following nine years on the job. Sendek, who was out of coaching last season, went 4-8 against Miller while at ASU.
“I respect Herb Sendek as much as any coach in our game. Consider him a friend,” Miller said of the fellow Pittsburgh native.
“Santa Clara is lucky to have him as their coach. He returns to the game probably a better coach than he was in the last 20 years, and he has been a heck of a coach before he got to Santa Clara.”
Arizona's leading scorer is freshman forward Lauri Markkanen, a 7-footer who is averaging 19.5 points per game, as well as a team-high 8.3 rebounds. Freshmen are the Wildcats' next two top scorers — guard Kobi Simmons (12.0) and wing Rawle Alkins (11.3).
Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright is coming off his first career double-double (15 points, 11 assists). He has 15 assists and one turnover in the past two games.
The winner of Thursday night's game plays the winner of Vanderbilt/Butler on Friday.