Long Beach State at Arizona -23.5 O/U 156.5
Things didn't go as expected for Arizona at the recent Battle of Atlantis tournament. The Wildcats opened with losses to NC State and SMU and were then run out of the gym by Purdue, 89-64. It's a very common theme: Upper-tier team blows out weak competition at home with a couple of 100+ point performances and forgets how to defend when asked to step up in class. Sean Miller had this to say about his team's performance...
“We had never experienced anything but a blowout and with a group that’s as young as we are, our confidence left us, it’s almost as if something was wrong. But we had a hard time defending them, missed free throws. Didn’t execute defensively. Against Purdue it was the entirety. The thing that was disappointing against Purdue was … they outscored us by 13 in the last eight (minutes). We caved at the end. It’s more about how we finished than being a 25-point difference. With that we have to become an overall better basketball team.”
Given Miller's pedigree as a coach, you can safely bet that they spent a lot of time being reminded to guard during practice this week. And specifically transition defense which will be tested tonight against Long Beach State. The 49ers aren't playing as ridiculous a schedule as last year though they've played five games against power conference foes. The defense was lacking in a number of those contests (90 ppg allowed in four losses) but travel and fatigue played a part. Here they've had a couple days to catch their breath and make the short trip to Tucson. Also note that against two solid defenses in West Virginia and Missouri, Long Beach really struggled to score with 62- and 58-point efforts. I think we see max effort on the defensive end from Arizona which should assist in this game going under the total.