After a great bounce-back win against Nebraska, Indiana basketball jumps back into non-conference action against the Arizona Wildcats in Las Vegas. The game will air at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and will be broadcasted on FOX.
This will certainly be a tough task for the Hoosiers Saturday night. The Wildcats are surely battle-tested and will be ready, as they won the Maui Invitational back in November against a talented field of teams. Here’s a closer look at head coach Tommy Lloyd’s Arizona team.
Taking a look at the Wildcats
This will undoubtedly be the toughest test so far for this Indiana defense. Arizona poses the No. 3 scoring offense in the country, averaging a stunning 91.5 points per game. The Wildcats return some key pieces from a No. 1-seed team in the NCAA tournament just last year.
One of those pieces is star forward Azuolas Tubelis, who was on the preseason Wooden Award Watch list. Tubelis is averaging 20.1 points per game and shooting at a very impressive 61.9% from the field. As good as he is finishing around the basket, his 3-point shot makes him that much more of a nightmare for defenses.
However, the Hoosiers will have to watch out for the other Wildcat big man — seven-footer Oumar Ballo. Ballo is tied for 30th in the country in blocked shots, so it will be a tough task for Indiana to score the ball inside. Both players are very talented rebounders, so it will be up to the IU frontcourt to make sure Arizona doesn’t get any second-chance points.
Kerr Kriisa is someone the Hoosiers are going to have to watch out for in Arizona’s backcourt. Kriisa is one who is not afraid to pull the trigger from beyond the arc, and shooting well at a 40.9% clip. Texas transfer Courtney Ramey complements Kriisa very well, as he is a guard who is better at driving to the basket and finishing higher-percentage looks. It will be quite the challenge to defend a high-octane Arizona offense with lots of talent.
Keys for Indiana
IU cannot afford mental errors on defense if it’s going to want to win this game. The Wildcats are very talented at moving the ball around and getting the best shot possible, as they are second in the country in assists averaging 21 per game. It should be a fun environment Saturday night in Vegas, so the Hoosiers need to stay stable mentally.
It feels as though we are due for a big game from Race Thompson. Yes he had a great performance against Little Rock in the absence of Trayce Jackson-Davis, but I feel as though a big game for him on a big stage against a really good team is coming. Surely he will be undersized with Arizona’s big men. But even if it’s on defense or helping facilitate the offense, Indiana is going to need some big-time production out of him.
The big storyline in this matchup will be Arizona’s offense vs Indiana’s defense, but I think Indiana’s offense vs Arizona’s defense is ultimately what will decide this game. If the Hoosiers can score and keep up with the Wildcat offense, I think that gives the Hoosiers a great shot to win this game. It will be tough to get looks inside with Arizona’s frontcourt, so Indiana will need to shoot it well from 3-point range if the Hoosiers want another signature non-conference win.