December 16, 2014

Already outstanding on the defensive end, Arizona's recent offensive improvement isn't a good sign for its final three non-conference opponents.

Coming off their best all-around performance of the season, the third-ranked Wildcats will try to extend the fifth-longest home winning streak in school history Tuesday night when they take on Oakland.

Arizona, which has won its first 10 games for a third straight season, has held opponents under 40 percent shooting in its last four games and has limited teams to 39.1 percent overall.

The Wildcats also lead the Pac-12 with 8.3 steals per game, while senior guard T.J. McConnell tops the league at 2.4.

Arizona coach Sean Miller, though, believes his squad still has some room for improvement after ranking fourth nationally in defensive field-goal percentage at 38.0 during its 33-win season in 2013-14.

"I don't know if we're along the lines of the way we were last season," Miller said. "Last season, we took that next step. But we'll see, maybe we can develop into that. We don't know yet - it's still mid-December."

The Wildcats limited Michigan to 35.2 percent shooting in Saturday's 80-53 rout for their 23rd consecutive non-conference home victory. They've also won by an average of 20.8 points while holding teams to 37.4 percent shooting during their 28-game run at home overall.

Arizona, which also visits UTEP and UNLV before opening Pac-12 play versus Arizona State on Jan. 4, could be hitting its stride offensively after shooting 58.9 percent from the field over its last two games.

The Wildcats are focused on getting the ball inside more consistently to Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski. The three frontcourt players combined for 42 points on 17-of-22 shooting against the Wolverines.

Johnson, a freshman averaging a team-high 14.1 points, has scored 31 while hitting 13 of 17 shots over his past two games.

The Wildcats hope to move past their struggles at the foul line, where they've shot 56.5 percent in their last four games.

They should be able to continue their strong all-around performance against an Oakland team that allowed Michigan State to shoot 55.7 percent - including 10 for 17 from 3-point range - in an 87-61 road loss Sunday.

The Golden Grizzlies (4-6) shot a season-low 39.6 percent.

It certainly doesn't get any easier as they face the second of five straight opponents from Power 5 conferences. Oakland, 7-72 all-time versus Power 5 teams, also takes on Pittsburgh, Clemson and No. 17 Maryland on the road.

"(The Michigan State) game and the Arizona game will make us better when we go to Pitt and when we go to Clemson," coach Greg Kampe said. "These games will make us ready to compete out there. I'm excited that we have a lot of talent."

Dante Williams finished with a team-high 15 points off the bench Sunday, while Corey Petros contributed 13 along with 10 rebounds. Petros, the team's leading scorer, has averaged 18.3 points over his last four games.

Petros was a freshman who started but did not score in Oakland's only trip to Tucson in December 2011. The Grizzlies trailed by four points at the half before falling 85-73.

They've dropped the last 10 games versus ranked opponents since a win at No. 7 Tennessee in December 2010.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)