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Arizona basketball: Wildcats to host Northern Colorado on Monday

The Bears have a high-powered backcourt, but are one of the worst defensive teams in the country

CSU Bakersfield v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The No. 8 Arizona Wildcats (3-0) are set to host the Northern Colorado Bears (1-2) in their second game of the Las Vegas Invitational on Monday night in McKale Center.

Arizona beat Sacred Heart 95-65 on Friday in the first game of the Las Vegas Invitational, improving to 3-0 on the season.

Six Wildcats — Lauri Markkanen, Dusan Ristic, Chance Comanche, Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright — scored in double figures with Markkanen leading the way, posting a team-high 22 points.

Markkanen, averaging 20.3 points per game, leads Arizona in scoring this season, but Sean Miller said after Friday’s game that the ball needs to find the 7-footer even more than it has been.

Ristic, after struggling in the first two games of the season, dropped 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against Sacred Heart — the junior’s first double-double at Arizona.

Miller thinks Ristic is still adjusting to being a full-time starter, while the 7-footer says he felt good after posting a double-double, but also that his confidence wasn’t shaken after the slow start to the season.

From that win against Sacred Heart, we also learned that Arizona’s ability to get to the free throw line and score in transition can allow it to overcome poor shooting nights.

The Wildcats are taking 28 free throws per game, sinking 78.4 percent of them.

Kadeem Allen will likely play against Northern Colorado. The redshirt senior is recovering from a knee injury and only played five minutes against Sacred Heart after missing the team’s home opener against Cal State Bakersfield.

But Miller insists that Allen’s injury is not one that he can re-aggravate, so expect him to give it a go against the Bears.

Allonzo Trier’s status for Monday’s game is unclear. The sophomore has sat out the team’s first three games for unspecified reasons.

Here’s how you can watch Arizona take on Northern Colorado and what to expect from the Bears:


7 p.m. MST


Pac-12 Networks

Streaming and the Pac-12 Now app for iOS and Android


Daron Sutton and Matt Muehlebach

Northern Colorado lost to Santa Clara 88-72 on Saturday in its first game of the Las Vegas Invitational, and the Bears’ only win came against Colorado Christian. Before that win, they lost to Butler 89-52.

Northern Colorado is led by an explosive backcourt of Jordan Davis and Chaz Glotta, as both sophomores are averaging double figures in the scoring column this season.

Davis, a 6-foot-2 guard, is averaging 23.7 points per game and is doing so while shooting 55.0 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3 (5-11). Davis is also averaging 4.7 rebounds per game and leads the team in assists, dropping 6.0 per contest, though he’s also turning the ball over at a high rate, committing an average of 5.3 per game.

The sophomore had 24 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in his team’s loss to Santa Clara.

A crazy stat about Davis is that he has the second highest percentage of possessions used in the country at 44.5 percent, per

Davis also has the second highest assist rate in the country as 60.3 percent of field goals made by Northern Colorado are assisted by Davis when he’s on the floor.

Basically, the ball is almost always in Davis’ hands and he’s either scoring it (at an efficient rate) or assisting a teammate. Normally, this is a guy that Kadeem Allen would be asked to guard, but with the Arizona guard at less than 100 percent, that may not be the case on Monday.

Davis’ backcourt partner, Glotta, also listed at 6-foot-2, is averaging 14.0 points per game and, like Davis, is doing it in an efficient manner, shooting 50 percent from the field and 9-18 from 3.

As a team, Northern Colorado is shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from 3.

The Bears’ tallest rotation player is 6-foot-9 and from a metrics standpoint, they don’t rebound particularly well, especially on the offensive end, which is good news for Arizona, which has struggled to grab defensive rebounds at times.

Northern Colorado is also one of the worst defensive teams in the country.

The Bears have a defensive rating — an estimate of the number of points allowed per 100 possessions — of 114.7, putting their defense at 327th out of 351 teams in college basketball.

Both Butler and Santa Clara shot 53.3 percent in their victories against Northern Colorado.

Northern Colorado, a member of the Big Sky Conference, had a 10-21 record last season.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire