The Arizona Wildcats have played a large chunk of their season with just three scholarship guards available, and yet the team still finished the non-conference schedule with a record of 11-2.
Well, the physicality of those three guards.
Headlined by Kadeem Allen, the Wildcats have held opponents to a 30.5% clip from beyond the arc, a top-50 number in the country. The 60.8 points allowed per game ranks 18th in the country, and Arizona’s adjusted defense on KenPom ranks in the top 25.
No small feat for these three. And Sean Miller attributes it to the physicality that Allen, Rawle Alkins, and Kobi Simmons exhibit on the defensive end.
“When Kadeem’s on you, you really feel it,” Miller said of Allen’s defense this week. “Trust me, there aren’t many guards defensively than what Kadeem brings to us.”
This has frustrated other teams that have had to face Arizona.
“Their guard play is big and physical,” Grand Canyon Antelopes head coach Dan Majerle said of the Wildcats after his team traveled to Tucson and lost by ten points. “I’m very impressed with what they’ve got here. When the going gets tough defensively, they’re extremely tough. They’re long and guard extremely well.”
GCU guard DeWayne Russell was held to just 19 points in that game, one of only three games he’s played in that he failed to reach the 20 point plateau.
Less than a week later, New Mexico’s best player, Elijah Brown, was held to 17 points on 13 shots.
Heading into Pac-12 play, this particular strength for Arizona should bode well for it against some of the conference’s top teams. And when Parker Jackson-Cartwright returns, the fatigue factor and foul trouble concerns will be less of an issue as well, allowing Allen to be even more physical than he has been.
That could be dangerous for any opposing team.