No. 11 Arizona welcomes Wyoming in battle of unbeatens

NCAA Men's Basketball

Two undefeated, high-scoring teams meet when No. 11 Arizona opposes Wyoming on Wednesday night in Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona (7-0) entered the week leading the nation in scoring (91.3 points per game) and scoring margin (32.6). Wyoming (8-0) wasn’t too far behind, averaging 82.2 points and outscoring foes by 23.2 per game, which ranked eighth in the country.

The caveats, especially as they pertain to the Cowboys, have been the relative ease of each team’s schedule. Wyoming has decent road wins at Washington and Grand Canyon but also has three victories over teams that started the week ranked 327th or worse (out of 358 teams) in the KenPom.com ratings. Wyoming failed to pick up any votes in this week’s AP poll.

Arizona is hanging its hat on neutral-court victories over Wichita State and Michigan. The Wildcats are blowing teams out with a run-first mentality that is fueled by lock-down defense.

“What they’re doing, the pace they’re playing at, you know, my guys probably don’t quite know,” Cowboys coach Jeff Linder said. “They won’t know until it really hits them what it really feels like at the pace that they play at.”

The Wildcats have four players averaging double-figure points, led by wing Bennedict Mathurin, who poured in 29 points in a 90-65 victory at Oregon State on Sunday to begin Pac-12 play. Mathurin, averaging 16 points for the season, was selected Pac-12 Player of the Week for that performance.

“The first thing that really got Benn going was the offensive rebounding,” Arizona first-year coach Tommy Lloyd said. “He should be a great offensive rebounder. He’s a great spot-up 3-point shooter, and he’s great in transition. It’s a heck of a combination.”

Post players Christian Koloko and Azuolas Tubelis each average 15.6 points, combining to hit 80 of 124 shots (64.5 percent). Kerr Kriisa is contributing 10.1 points per game.

Wyoming has size up front to match up. Graham Ike (20.8 points, nine rebounds per game) is the reigning Mountain West Player of the Week for a two-game effort that included career-highs in points (35) and rebounds (14) against Denver. He has four double-doubles this season.

“We’ve seen a lot of length and size, and it’s something that we won’t be shocked by,” Linder said. “And with a guy like Graham, I mean, I’ll put him up against anybody in the country one-on-one on the block.”

Wyoming has four other double-digit scorers, including Hunter Maldonado, who is at 18.9 points per game.

The results have been the same, but the teams’ styles are very different.

Arizona wants to run and create turnovers, forcing 17.1 per game. Wyoming wants to slow down the game, grind and not give away anything easy, committing just 9.5 turnovers per game.

The Wildcats entered the week ranked second in the country in field-goal percentage defense (34 percent), but they will have to be wary of Wyoming getting hot. The Cowboys are hitting 50.1 percent of their shots from the field, including 38 percent from beyond the arc. They tied an NCAA record by draining 28 3-pointers in a win over Hastings College on Nov. 26.

Drake Jeffries is the one to watch from long distance. He has made 28 of 50 3-point attempts.

–Field Level Media

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