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Arizona vs. Providence: Wildcats look for bounce back performance against the Friars in the Wooden Legacy Tournament

The Wildcats will have to try to defend one of the best players in college basketball

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Two games in two days? No problem!

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Time: 9:30 p.m. MST


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The Arizona Wildcats (5-0) are coming off their worst performance of their season -- a 75-73 overtime win against the winless Santa Clara Broncos. The Wildcats -- who have struggled defensively this season -- allowed Jordan Brownridge to put up 44 points and the Broncos to shoot nearly 44% from the field.

Defensive woes aren't the only issues the team had. Their offense once again struggled against a zone, as the team shot 3-22 from behind the arc. Gabe York shot 3-15 from the field and 1-10 from three-point land. Not to mention that Kaleb Tarczewski -- who has been in poor health this season -- injured his ankle late in the second half and did not return. The team does not yet know how serious the injury is yet.

"Kaleb Tarczewski has been injured his entire time here -- his senior year," Sean Miller said. "He has practiced maybe two weeks and been bothered by both ankles. I know he reinjured one tonight. I do not know the severity."

With or without Tarczewski, the Wildcats won't have much time to regroup from Thursday's victory. They'll be taking on the Providence Friars on Friday night. The Friars (5-0) beat Evansville 74-64 in their Wooden Legacy Tournament opener, and they feature a trio of scorers that average 15+ points per game -- Kris Dunn, Rodney Bullock, and Ben Bentil.

Dunn is the player the Wildcats have to be the most cautious about. The junior is averaging 18.4 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, an 6.4 assists per game this season, and is projected as a top-10 draft pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

The athletic, 6-4 point guard hasn't shot the ball that well this season, as he's made just four of 19 three-point attempts, but he is relentless at getting to the rim and the free throw line. And aside from finishing at the rim himself, his driving ability forces defenses to collapse on him, and he's more than capable of finding open teammates, as he has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.64.

If the Wildcats thought guarding Jordan Brownridge was difficult, wait until they get a look at Kris Dunn. Kadeem Allen and Elliott Pitts were the ones given the task of guarding Brownridge, so it's likely they'll be the ones tracking Dunn.

Sean Miller isn't looking forward to it.

"Kris Dunn can score 60 against Arizona tomorrow," he said. "That’s one thing I would look at if I were ESPN. Can Dunn score more than Brownridge on Arizona? There’s a chance he could get 50."

That said, if there's one thing the Wildcats can do that would help them avoid the upset it's to force Providence to hit shots from the perimeter. The Friars are shooting just 30.5% from behind the arc this season. But that's easier said than done when Kris Dunn is slashing through the defense and drawing so much attention.

I expect this game to go down to the wire.