Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Arizona Wildcats will attempt to improve to 9-0 on Tuesday when they host the Utah Valley Wolverines in a non-conference matchup at the McKale Center.
Utah Valley is putting the wraps on a seven-game road trip with this clash, and the Wolverines would love to get to the .500 mark by pulling off the upset here. They have lost three in a row, and will be heading home to tangle with Utah State this Saturday, marking their first home game since a 60-52 win over South Dakota in the season opener.
Arizona was locked in an epic battle with Gonzaga on Saturday. The Wildcats survived the clash, escaping with a 66-63 overtime win in the second part of a five-game homestand. They will host Michigan in their next outing.
This bout represents the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
Utah Valley shot a respectable 45.1 percent from the floor against Montana State last time out, but its struggles from 3-point range sank it in a 68-60 loss. The Wolverines made only 2-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc, while the Bobcats drained six triples in the contest. Marcel Davis finished with 17 points as the leading scorer for the Wolverines, while Mitch Bruneel (eight points, nine rebounds) nearly had a double-double.
Lighting up the scoreboard has not come easy for Utah Valley, as the team nets only 59.1 points per game, while connecting on 42.2 percent of its field goal attempts. On defense, the Wolverines are surrendering 65.1 points per game on 46.6 percent accuracy. Bruneel (12.6 ppg) is the only player on the roster scoring in double figures, although Davis (9.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Zach Nelson (9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) are each in that neighborhood.
Arizona limited Gonzaga to just 39.7 percent shooting in Saturday's win, including the 1-of-3 success rate the Bulldogs had in overtime. The Wildcats made 2-of-4 tries in the extra session, while hitting 2-of-4 at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs missed all three of their foul shots in the period. Arizona survived despite suffering a 39-31 deficit on the boards and a 30-24 disadvantage in points in the paint. Brandon Ashley hit both of his shots from 3-point range and finished with a team-high 14 points.
The Wildcats are built to grind out wins as they play strong defense and normally shoot at an efficient rate. They are limiting the opposition to 60.6 points per game on 40 percent shooting, while making good on 48.6 percent of their own attempts from the floor. Stanley Johnson (13.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) tops the scoring effort in this, his freshman season. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (12.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Brandon Ashley (12.1 ppg, 5 rpg) are both solid scorers as well. T.J. McConnell (8.2 ppg, 5.9 apg, 2.6 spg) managed 12 points against Gonzaga, but he had only two assists and three turnovers.