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Southern Miss vs. Arizona: The height factor gives Wildcats advantage

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles visit McKale Center with one player listed as being taller than 6-foot-7.

Christian Petersen

Time: 7:30 p.m. MST

TV: Pac-12 Networks

It'll end up sounding like a broken record soon enough. The No. 8 Arizona Wildcats (5-0) will have the size advantage most nights. So far, that's only led to a broken record in analyzing games, where Sean Miller's team works inside-out in outrebounding opponents before having an easy time shooting from the perimeter as teams collapse to the interior on defense.

The Wildcats host the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and first-year head coach Donnie Tyndall in McKale Center Tuesday night, and it's expected to be much of the same.

Tyndall's team has one player listed as being taller than 6-foot-7, and 6-foot-9 forward Christian Robbins has only played one minute in one game. Southern Miss will likely start three frontcourt players that are 6-foot-5, including leading scorer Dwayne Davis, a wing who leads the team with 15.1 points per game and has hit 9-of-18 three-pointers on the year. Davis is flanked by Jonathan Mills, a 6-foot-5 and beefy 240-pound player who leads the Golden Eagles with 7.6 rebounds per game.

In comparison, the Wildcats' average height in their starting lineup is 6-foot-6.

With such a small roster, it's concerning for Tyndall that his team had trouble with New Mexico State in their last game, which ended in a 68-60 loss. The Golden Eagles were outrebounded by 10. Per Stats LLC:

"You have to give a lot of credit to New Mexico State," Tyndall said. "That's the most talented team we've played so far. We really couldn't do much with their big guys. We tried to front the post, but they just kept throwing inside for easy baskets."

Though Southern Miss is expected to have a down year following the coaching and player turnover, the team out of Conference USA has looked surprisingly competitive early on this season. The Golden Eagles won their first six games, including solid overtime wins against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the Georgia Bulldogs. They also defeated UC Irvine, the same team that took the UCLA Bruins to overtime.

Of course, the early-season success was something we saw with Arizona's last opponent, the Texas Tech Red Raiders. And we all know how that went.

The Wildcats are looking for their first 6-0 start since 1999, though the strength of schedule has so far been a cake walk. Things get a little tougher after this one; Arizona heads to South Carolina to face Clemson then returns home to host a Florida Gators team that is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation.

What we'd like to see

It's not a huge concern, but Grant Jerrett and Angelo Chol haven't shown much consistency so far. Jerrett scored 11 against Texas Tech, but it'd be huge if the freshman could put together another strong game in some capacity, just for confidence's sake. His aggressiveness has been on-again, off-again, so putting together a string of focused games -- no matter what type of impact results -- will be helpful.

On the other hand, Chol still looks like his freshman self at times. That's not to say he doesn't have the tools, but rather a question of how and when he'll use them. In seven minutes against Texas Tech, he didn't score and had a turnover and a personal foul in seven minutes of play as Miller's rotation was shortened as far as minute distribution was concerned.

And as we've mentioned before, it'll be interesting to see how Mark Lyons' point guard play develops.