The Arizona Wildcats are off to a fast 15-3 start under second-year coach Sean Miller. Outside of Kansas and BYU, the Cats will face their toughest challenge this thursday as they travel to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies. Led by guard Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies look to extend their winning streak against the Wildcats to 3-0 in the past 2 seasons. This is sure to be the premier game of the week, as the Huskies are currently 1st in the PAC-10 at 5-1, with the Wildcats only a half game behind sitting at 4-1 in conference play.
One aspect of the game that should be very interesting to watch is the battle inside. Derrick Williams, who was recently named Pac-10 Player of the Week, is averaging 19.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Washington front court consists of senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning and sophomore Aziz N'Diaye, who combine for 21 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. It can only be speculated what defense head coach Lorenzo Romar chooses to use against the Wildcats, but it will be important for Williams to assert himself early on the offensive end, while staying out of foul trouble on the other.
In addition to Williams having a big game, it will almost be more important that he gets help from his supporting cast. Solomon Hill has a unique ability of disappearing in big games, while Kevin Parrom is starting to emerge as the go-to player of the Wildcats second unit. Point guard play will also be crucial for UA, as they cannot afford turnovers by Lamont Jones or Jordin Mayes that could lead to easy transition points for Washington.
It is no secret that this is the biggest game of the young conference season for both the Wildcats and Huskies. This game will come down to how Washington can contain Williams, as well as how well the Wildcats can take care of the basketball and get production from their bench. As in every game, if the Wildcats can play with intensity and togetherness, they have a legitimate shot at securing a Win. Will we see the UA team that showed up for the Kansas game, or the team that looked lost in Salt Lake? We will all have to wait and find out.