November 25, 2015

Ryan Anderson's absence didn't hinder Arizona too much in its latest game, but the 11th-ranked Wildcats were lacking their usual offensive punch.

Coach Sean Miller is confident that the senior forward will return for the Wooden Legacy, possibly as soon as Thursday night's opener against Santa Clara.

An ankle injury forced Anderson to sit out Sunday's home game versus Northwestern State. The Wildcats (4-0) relied on a top-notch defensive effort in a 61-42 victory after allowing an average of 65.7 points in their first three games.

They held the Demons to 36.4 percent shooting and 2 of 10 from 3-point range while forcing 18 turnovers. That let Arizona overcome a season-low 36.7 percent shooting, including 5 of 22 from beyond the arc.

Gabe York scored 18 points and Allonzo Trier was the only other player in double figures with 10.

"It was eye-opening, just some of the things defensively (Anderson) brings and offensively he brings," York said. "It was different out there today."

Arizona averaged 85.7 points and Anderson put up 13.7 in his first three games in a Wildcats uniform. The transfer from Boston College also had a team-best 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest.

"Ryan's improving every day," Miller said. "It's not a high ankle sprain or one of those that he could miss a long period of time. We're optimistic that he'll be able to play on Thursday and certainly in the tournament."

Arizona will play either Providence or Evansville on Friday night in Fullerton, California. The tournament will conclude Sunday in Anaheim, possibly against third-ranked Michigan State.

While all three of those potential opponents are undefeated, Miller's team first faces one that has yet to win.

Taking on Santa Clara (0-5) will be Arizona's first game away from home. The Wildcats have already gone through their first plane flight and hotel stay this season with their scrimmage at Saint Mary's last month.

"I like the fact we have that experience under our belt as opposed to never having done that at all. Because it is an adjustment when you play in front of such a great crowd like we have every night at Arizona," Miller said.

The Broncos are off to their worst start since losing six straight to begin 1964-65, and they shot 25.4 percent in a 79-61 loss at UC Irvine on Monday.

Jared Brownridge had 19 points despite missing 16 of 19 from the field. The junior guard is shooting 27.9 percent but is the only player averaging in double figures for Santa Clara (15.4 ppg).

Arizona has won three straight in the series since getting upset by the 15th-seeded Broncos in 1993 NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara has lost 26 in a row to ranked teams since beating No. 4 North Carolina on Nov. 19, 2004.

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