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Rhode Island vs. Arizona: Time, TV and 2013 NIT Season Tip-Off tidbits

The Arizona Wildcats and Rhode Island Rams clash Tuesday in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Miller eyes hit 101st career win as coach of the Arizona Wildcats on Tuesday against a Rhode Island team that snuck by Division II power Metro State a day prior.

It will be plenty be easy if Arizona plays as well as it did in a 100-50 win against FDU on Monday.

The Rams don't have the firepower to hang with the Wildcats -- few teams do from what we've seen thus far -- but they will certainly be more of a test than the FDU Knights were late Monday night. After all, several top-25 teams have fallen so far this season. North Carolina left 26 points at the foul stripe in a stunning loss to Belmont a few days ago, and that Bruins team was the one Arizona rolled past in the NCAA tournament a year ago.

It's hard to see the Wildcats losing because, no matter their issues, the defense has not failed to show up.

Rhode Island has a lot of turnover under coach Dan Hurley, but senior guard Xavier Munford returns as the leader of the team. He's no scorer by any stretch of the imagination, but he is averaging 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Munford is shooting just 24 percent and isn't a threat unless he gets into the paint, but he did lead the Rams in scoring (16 points), rebounding (six rebounds) and assists (five assists) in the victory against Metro State.

Freshman guard E.C. Matthews leads Rhode Island by averaging 14.3 points per game and three assists to boot -- it'll be up to Nick Johnson and Gabe York to pressure Matthews out of his comfort zone.

Swingman Jarelle Reischel out of Germany is one player who can stretch the floor as a three-point threat, but as it was against FDU, the Wildcats face a team that isn't passing the ball and as such is shooting 41.5 percent from the field and a miserable 23.9 percent from deep.

Unlike FDU, the Rams have a bit more size in the middle, and they might be willing to use it. Ifeanyi Onyekaba and Gilvydas Biruta are both 6-foot-8 and 240-plus, but that size matters little if the Rhode Island guards aren't setting their big men up. If there's no viable way for the bigs to score against Arizona, it's hard to see the guards doing it themselves off isolation plays.

Despite the new NCAA handchecking rules, foul trouble has yet to force Miller's hand in going deep into his bench so far. And it's hard to say how exactly to attack the Wildcats. A team getting its big men hot from the perimeter could be a start, but that's, in all likelihood, not going to be Rhode Island.

Looking ahead

  • If Arizona reaches New York, it will play the winner of Drexel and Rutgers, who play at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
  • On the other side of the bracket, Duke cruised to a 91-55 victory against UNC Asheville behind super freshman Jabari Parker's 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. The Blue Devils play East Carolina on Tuesday.
  • CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello is maybe calling Duke's next potential opponent a toss up. Alabama isn't very good, and the Tide could fall to a very good Georgia State team.


8 p.m. MST