Arizona basketball: Chico will test Cats' ability to stop the 3

2012-11-06T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:20:30Z Arizona basketball: Chico will test Cats' ability to stop the 3Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 06, 2012 12:00 am  • 

En route to 25 wins last season, the Chico State Wildcats averaged 7.8 made three-pointers a game.

In a six-point exhibition loss at Pacific on Sunday, the Northern California school made 9 of 30 attempts.

In other words, Chico is exactly the kind of test the Arizona Wildcats need tonight, in their final exhibition game before their season opener Sunday against Charleston Southern.

Arizona allowed Humboldt State to make 9 of 19 threes last Wednesday, and Humboldt is picked to finish fourth, three spots behind Chico State, in the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association race.

"I think there are a couple of things that really stuck out (against Humboldt) and one was our ability to defend the three-point shot at all five positions," UA coach Sean Miller said. "It's just such a game-changer if you can't do it, and the fact that they made nine threes is alarming."

Especially for a UA team that led the Pac-12 in three-point percentage defense last season, allowing opponents to hit only 28.5 percent from beyond the arc.

"We were good on" defending threes in 2011-12, forward Solomon Hill said. "We have to continue to build on that."

Not only were Humboldt's nine threes a clue that UA's defense was struggling last week, but so were the Wildcats' desperation fouls against shooters. UA's four guards committed a total of 13 fouls, with senior Mark Lyons fouling out and Nick Johnson and Gabe York collecting four each.

"We fouled the shooter four times and their three-point shooter twice," Miller said. "That really shows you that's something we have to get better at. We have to be more responsible, sometimes as individuals and sometimes as a team. We have to get better. It negates our size advantage when you can't guard them."

The Wildcats' big men also struggled to defend the three against Humboldt State - because some of them haven't had to yet. Humboldt had a 250-pound big man, Alec Williams, popping in 3 of 4 from long range.

He wasn't exactly the kind of target UA's freshman big men have seen in practice.

Difficult matchups are "something we're going to experience early on, with the freshmen playing big roles," Miller said. "That was the first time they've faced a big guy shooting threes. But one of the things I thought happened was (freshman forward) Grant Jerrett, in particular, adjusted."

Chico State, which finished 25-8 last season, is ranked No. 18 in a Division II preseason poll.

Hill eyes more mismatches

Hill was able to create mismatches last season at power forward, becoming the Wildcats' leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, but he says he's confident of doing the same as a small forward this season.

"As a three, hopefully I can create mismatches the same way," said Hill, who can shoot the three and is a good passer. "Not many threes are used to guarding a point guard. What I want to do now is try to make that in my favor because of my versatility."

Hill was 5 of 13 from the field in the Red-Blue Game, missing all four three-pointers he took, and had two assists, two steals and one turnover. Against Humboldt State, Hill was 4 for 10 from the field, 1 for 5 from three-point range and had four assists and four turnovers.

Regardless of his early stats, Hill has impressed Miller with his preparation and focus.

"He has prepared himself tremendously to be successful with" playing small forward, Miller said. "If you look at him physically, he's in the best shape of his life. And from a perimeter perspective, the ability to make threes and shoot the basketball, he's at a much different level now than ever before."

Gordon staying busy

UA recruiting target Aaron Gordon is scheduled to take his final recruiting visit to Kentucky this weekend, and he told the San Jose Mercury News he is tiring of the recruiting process.

Gordon has visited Oregon, Washington, Kansas, and Arizona already, and has been expected to make a decision in the spring. His visits will be over before the fall signing period starts on Nov. 14, but Gordon said he remains undecided.

"I start the day waking up and thinking about one school as a front-runner," he told the Mercury News. "And then through the course of the day, I'll talk to friends and people who I respect, and … my rankings will change."

On StarNet: Follow the latest news on the Cats on Bruce Pascoe's blog at


• Who: Chico State at Arizona, exhibition

• When: 6:30 p.m.

• Online:

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Utah 6 1 0 0.857 16 3 0 0.842
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857 18 2 0 0.900
Stanford 5 2 0 0.714 14 5 0 0.737
Oregon State 5 2 0 0.714 13 5 0 0.722
Oregon 4 3 0 0.571 14 6 0 0.700
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Washington 3 4 0 0.429 14 5 0 0.737
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Arizona State 2 5 0 0.286 11 10 0 0.524
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Oregon State at
Arizona State
1/28 6:00 pm
Oregon at
1/28 8:00 pm
Stanford at
1/28 9:00 pm
Colorado at
1/29 7:30 pm
Utah at
1/29 8:00 pm
California at
Washington State
1/29 9:00 pm
Oregon at
Arizona State
1/30 6:00 pm
Oregon State at
1/30 8:00 pm
Stanford at
Washington State
1/31 6:00 pm
Colorado at
1/31 8:30 pm
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