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Purdue Basketball: Arizona Preview

The Boilermakers face off against the Wildcats in a must see (if you have Peacock of course) battle of top 5 teams.

NCAA Basketball: Morgan State at Arizona Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

University of Arizona Wildcats (8-0) - Ken Pom #2 - AP #1

Basic Information

Location: Tucson, Arizona

Type of School: Public Land Grant Research University

Mascot: Wibur and Wilma T. Wildcat

Head Coach - Tommy Lloyd

Seasons at Arizona: 3

Career Record: 69-11

Regular Season Conference Championships: 1

Conference Tournament Championships: 2

NCAA Appearances: 2 (2-2)

Final 4 Appearances: 0

Kenpom Style of Play

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Adj. Efficiency: 122.0 (2)

Avg. Poss. Length: 14.6 (7)

Defense

Adj. Efficiency: 90.1 (2)

Avg. Poss. Length: 17 (151)

Tempo

Adj. Tempo: 75.8 (5)

Kenpom 4 Factors

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Effective FG%: 57.9 (12)

Turnover %: 16.5 (108)

Off. Reb. %: 38.9 (8)

FTA/FGA: 35.7 (123)

Defense

Effective FG%: 45.2 (33)

Turnover %: 19.8 (80)

Off. Reb. %: 17 (1)

FTA/FGA: 21.1 (6)

Personnel

Arizona Starters

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Point Guard 4 Kylan Boswell So. 6'2" 200 NA 26.9 12.4 3.1 4.8 1.4 0.1
Shooting Guard 2 Caleb Love Sr. 6'4" 205 North Carolina 28.4 14.1 5 4.5 1.6 0.4
Small Forward 3 Pelle Larsson Sr. 6'6" 215 Utah 23.1 12.3 3.9 3 0.8 0.1
Forward 16 Keshad Johnson Sr. 6'7" 225 San Diego State 23.9 12.6 6.9 1.6 1.3 1
Center 11 Oumar Ballo Sr. 7'0" 260 Gonzaga 21.3 12.5 6.3 0.8 1 0.9

Arizona Bench

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Small Forward 5 KJ Lewis Fr. 6'4" 205 18.6 6.8 4 2.3 1.1 0.8
Guard 0 Jaden Bradley So. 6'3" 200 Alabama 19 5 1.9 1.6 0.5 0.1
Center 14 Motiejus Krivas Fr. 7'2" 260 15.4 8.9 5 0.8 0.6 1.3
Forward 23 Paulius Murauskas Fr. 6'8" 225 11.3 5.2 3 0.3 0.3 0

Playing Style

Offense

Arizona is one of the more complete offensive teams Purdue will face this season. They play fast, but they’re not chuckers reliant on 3’s like Alabama. They have big men that can post, guards that can drive, and shooters capable of hitting open shots. The Wildcats are also an elite offensive rebounding team. This will be a challenge for the Boilermakers on every level.

Their offense starts with a push up the floor. They’re more than happy to take an open 3 in transition off both makes and misses. If they push and find a matchup they like in transition, they’ll attack the basket. They don’t rely on transition baskets but will happily take them when available.

Their post-up game is more about quick hitters than their post guys establishing post position and going one-on-one. They love early high/low action from the top of the key with Keshad Johnson at the top and Oumar Ballo sealing his defender up the lane. Johnson throws the lob over the top, and Ballo dunks it. They ran it to death against Wisconsin, and the Badgers didn’t have an answer.

Their wings scare me the most. Keshad Johnson (6’7”) and Pelle Larsson (6’6) are better athletes than the guys Purdue has to guard them. They were better athletes than the guys Duke, Michigan State, and Wisconsin had to guard them as well. Johnson, in particular, is a menace. He’s the second-leading scorer, best offensive and defensive rebounder, shoots 78% from the line. He’s a different kind of athlete, and I don’t see Trey Kaufman-Renn hanging with him on the perimeter. Johnson’s game reminds me a little of Paul George in terms of his ability to play like a guard on the wing or a big inside. He’ll drag TKR out of the lane and attack all game if Purdue allows that matchup.

Larsson doesn’t have the same all-around game, but he’s a tough cover. His 147 KenPom offensive rating is good for 6th in the nation. He went off for 21 points against Wisconsin, going 6-6 from the field, including a perfect 4-4 performance from deep. The only thing that kept him from a perfect game was his 5-9 performance from the free-throw line. Loyer will draw this assignment, and it’s another place where I expect Arizona to attack. At 6’6”, he’s another wing that plays like a guard. He uses his length to finish at the rim and is shooting a cool 60% from deep on 9-15 shooting. He does most of his damage at the rim but will pull the trigger when he’s open. If Purdue allows Larsson to isolate Loyer, it’s going to be a long night for Fletcher.

Then you have the guards. Caleb Love has been a basketball enigma his entire career. He oozes talent, which is why he transferred from North Carolina to Arizona. At North Carolina, he also oozed turnovers and head-scratching shots. Caleb Love was either the best or worst player on the floor for the Tar Heels at any given moment, and that vacillated not just game to game but possession to possession. On one trip down the floor, he might bully his way into the lane and score, and on the next, he might pull up and take a contested 30-footer against the same guy he just bullied and miss everything. I’ve seen some Caleb Love shots over the years that almost missed the floor.

I like the fact that Tommy Lloyd moved Love off the ball. He still takes questionable shots, but the ball is in his hand less. Kylan Boswell runs the show for the ‘Cats, and he’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the nation, hitting on 21 of 40 attempts this season (52%). For reference, Caleb Love has attempted the most 3’s on the team (50) but is only hitting at a 30% clip, such is life with Caleb Love on your team. If you want the great, you’ve got to accept the awful as well. I think you’re going to get Smith on Boswell and Jones on Love, but they could switch that. Whoever ends up on Boswell needs to stay attached to him at all times. Whoever ends up on Love needs to back off and offer him the opportunity to hoist wild 3’s until he starts hitting them.

It’s going to be a battle under the boards all night for the Boilermakers. Unlike most teams, they can somewhat match size with the Boilermakers. Ballo is 7’0”, 260, and Motiejus Krivas comes off the bench at 7’2”, 260. They’re always fighting for inside position, and often times, it’s not because they want the ball in the post, but instead, want good rebounding position. Krivas, in particular, uses his long arms to tip balls out to shooters. Zach is going to need help because Keshad Johnson is also an excellent offensive rebounder capable of swooping in from the wing and outjumping defenders for rebounds. They pulled down 12 offensive boards against Michigan State, including 3 from Johnson and 2 from Krivas. If Arizona dominates the offensive glass, Purdue is in trouble.

Lucky for the Boilers, that’s hard to accomplish with Zach Edey in the paint.

Defense

The Wildcats are long and strong (I’m not sure about their stance about getting the friction on) on defense.

This is going to be a different look for the Purdue ball handlers because they go over every screen and then play drop coverage with their big. They want your guard to feel like he can turn the corner and then run into their giant center waiting at the free-throw line. It’s similar to how Purdue plays the pick and roll with Edey.

I want to see Smith attacking all night long off the high screen and make Ballo and Krivas decide if they want to stay at the free-throw line and defend or go with Edey rolling hard to the rim. Braden is uniquely qualified for this role because he runs into Edey playing the same coverage in practice every day. He’s not going to panic when the big man steps up. Look for a few lob passes to Edey off the roll if Smith gets the big to engage.

One place they struggle is guarding behind the arc. They hold teams to 42.3% from 2 (13th) but allow teams to shoot 33.3% from 3 (192). They go over everything, but when one of their guards gets hung up on a screen, the ball handler comes off with a clean look. It’s hard to get over a Zach Edey screen, but the big man needs to make sure to keep those feet set because it’s easy to pick up a hip-check foul when a defender goes over a screen.

The other thing that concerns me about Arizona is their ability and willingness to both strip ballhandlers and jump passing lanes. They tend to be hyper-aggressive on defense, with a 12.4% steal percentage. Keshad Johnson, in particular, uses his long arms to pick up steals and deflections. He had 4 steals against Michigan State and could have been credited with a few more turnovers that were a direct result of the pressure he puts on guards both as an on and off-ball defender. Auto passes are Auto dunks going to the other way against Arizona.

Here’s the other thing with Arizona.

They’re going to make it tough to get the ball inside to Edey. They have big centers capable of battling for position and they have long wings that clog passing lanes. Sometimes Purdue struggles against teams that make the entry pass difficult. In my humble opinion, the only way to stop Zach Edey is to keep him from getting the ball, and Arizona, in theory, has that ability. Plus they have 2 capable, if not good, interchangeable big men with 10 fouls. I know Purdue likes to focus on fouling out the opposing center, but I don’t think Arizona will care as long as they’re also forcing turnovers on entry passes.

Matchup to Watch

Keshad Johnson vs Purdue’s 4

I’ve been waiting for a team to try and exploit Purdue’s power forward, and I think Arizona will give it a go. I’m not sure who draws the assignment, but I think this going to be a Mason Gillis night eventually. I’m not sure Kaufmann-Renn or Caleb Furst can guard Johnson on the perimeter. I’m not sure Mason can handle him in the post, but I’d rather Johnson try and win inside instead of constantly driving TKR or Furst.

One way for Purdue to win this matchup is to punish the 6’7”, 225-pound Johnson inside. He can’t freelance and jump passing lanes if he’s buried in the post by the 6’9”, 230 Kaufman-Renn or the 6’10”, 225 Caleb Furst. Putting Gillis on Johnson keeps him from scoring, but Mason is going to have to hit some 3’s to keep Johnson honest; otherwise, he’s going to throw a giant wrench in Purdue’s post offense.

Predictions

Prediction

KenPom

Purdue - 81

Arizona - 80

Confidence: 54%

Drew

Purdue - 71

Arizona - 77

I don’t like this matchup for Purdue. This feels like a game Edey goes for 25-30 but Arizona forces post feed turnovers and makes him earn it in the post with a big man capable of somewhat holding up behind him while their long wings swipe at him from the top side.

Arizona can play iso with pretty much everyone but their center and will have no issue hunting Fletcher Loyer and whoever Purdue has at the 4. They’ll put Purdue in defensive rotation and find open shots for their guards on kick outs, or they’ll score at the rim.

Who is going to join Zach in scoring?

Braden Smith has been a great answer this season, but it feels like Purdue is going to need more than 2 scorers in this game and I haven’t seen that third guy step up and assert himself yet.

If that happens, I’ll take Purdue.

I hope it happen.

A Final Note

This is a game built for Purdue’s young guns and Ethan Morton. Arizona’s athletic advantage at the 3 and 4 is diminished with Heide and Colvin on the floor and Morton is the ideal matchup against the 6’6” Larsson. I’ll be interested to see if Coach Painter switches up the rotation tomorrow.

He busted his ass to build one of the deepest rosters in the nation. I’d like to see him turn them loose in this one where athleticism should be a key factor.