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Rice-Arizona: What My TV Told Me

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Arizona 66, Rice 49

When the day comes where Jackson understands that he is an effective scorer going to the basket and not jacking up 3s, watch out. His toughness and creativity off the bounce is something to behold, and when he gets to the rim it makes the Owls' offense potent.

Shooting 28.6% isn't going to cut it most nights, let alone against teams as athletic as the Wildcats. When Rice made a push to pull within 46-40 midway through the second half, Arizona pounded the ball inside on offense and dialed up the on-ball pressure on defense. That was more than enough for the Wildcats to resume control, and with the Owls producing precious few points in the paint, Arizona had no reason to worry even after the Owls rallied.

One point was reinforced on Thursday night: the Owls have to work inside out. Their sharpshooting betrayed them (2-for-18 on 3s) because they didn't force Arizona to defend the rim. The Owls began jacking jumpers at the opening tip, and aside from a few well-executed sets, didn't venture into the paint enough to keep Arizona honest defensively. The spurts in which the Owls did look capable on offense came after penetration. If they Owls keep doing that they'll be OK; if they keep settling for hurried jump shots, they'll have more nights like this.

Kazemi (13 points, 10 rebounds) was huge, even if he struggled with the Wildcats' athletic forwards. He was fearless, and that's a desirable trait for a freshman. Jackson had six turnovers and shot just 4-for-15, but it's obvious that he'll get it. Kuipers and Cliff Ghoram have to shoot better than the combined 5-for-23 they threw up against Arizona. Their scoring is vital to this team's success, and if their athleticism isn't going to cut it, they need to get to spots on the floor where they are comfortable and trust that their teammates will get them the ball.

The defense was solid and the rebounding (plus-2) a pleasant surprise. Stick to the principles of patience and confidence on offense and things will be fine. There was plenty to like tonight.

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3 Comments

Good learning experience and we showed some grit in coming back after a horrible start. I'm a little concerned in that we only shot 31% Sunday as well and hope that we can find more consistency as the season progresses.

Big game for Kazemi and can see why the staff has been high on him. I was a little surprised that Kuipers wasn't more of a factor tonight particularly inside where we need some type of presence physically,

Nice recap, MK. A lot of to build upon and learn from last night. Hopefully by the end of the season we'll be wishing we could replay a game like this.

MK -- Finally got to actually see the team last night on TV (although it was on way too late here on the east coast!). Thought Tamir looked too tentative at the start. The team had an incredible 3 - 4 minutes in the middle of the second half where they showed great potential and were a lot of fun to watch.

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