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Arizona vs. Long Beach State preview: What/how to watch

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The Wildcats look to snap their three-game skid against Long Beach State on Wednesday

NCAA Basketball: Long Beach State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a three-game skid in the Bahamas, the Arizona Wildcats (3-3) look to get back to winning ways Wednesday when they host the Long Beach State 49ers (3-4).

Here is how you can tune in along with some things to watch for.


How to watch & listen

Game time: 6 p.m. MST

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Live stream: Pac-12.com/live

Announcers: Roxy Bernstein (play-by-play), Steve Lavin (analyst)

Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

Satellite Radio: Sirius 126, XM 198


What to watch

Brandon Randolph

The freshman wing will be making his first career start Wednesday after pouring in a career-high 17 points against Purdue last Friday.

Randolph said Tuesday that he feels like himself again after a concussion limited him earlier in the season.

“I’m getting back into the rhythm and I think that last game allowed me to get my flow back,” he said.

Prior to Friday’s breakout performance against the Boilermakers, Randolph had struggled to produce so it will be interesting to see if he can build on his performance against Purdue and become a reliable contributor for the Wildcats.

Feeding the frontcourt

Sean Miller said on his radio show Monday that he thinks Dusan Ristic and Deandre Ayton need more touches around the basket.

He’s not wrong.

Both big men are shooting over 60 percent from the field this season. Ristic, in particular, needs an increase, as he is averaging less than six field goal attempts per game.

Wednesday is a good opportunity to do that, as Long Beach State’s frontcourt is comprised of two players standing 6-foot-8 and under. UA has a major size advantage and should look to exploit it.

Defensive rebounding

Arizona’s defensive rebounding — or lack thereof — is one of its two main issues right now, per Miller.

Ayton has been rebounding as well as anyone in the country, ranking third in rebounds per game, but the Wildcats need others to step up around him.

Arizona is the 177th-ranked defensive rebounding team in the country, per KenPom. It surrendered 20 offensive rebounds in its loss to SMU last Thursday.

Arizona’s wings — like Randolph, Emmanuel Akot, Allonzo Trier, and Dylan Smith — have not been productive on the glass.

Trier, who has the highest defensive rebounding percentage of the four, is rebounding a career-low rate, tracking down just 9.3 percent of misses while on defense.

Randolph is at 1.6 percent, Smith is at 2.7, and Akot is at 8.8.

Long Beach State is a decent rebounding team, but not one Arizona should have issues with. Expect the Wildcats to get after it on the boards.

Transition defense

This is Arizona’s other main weakness, Miller says.

Opposing teams have an effective field goal percentage of 62.3 against the Wildcats this season in transition (transition is defined as a shot taken 10 seconds within a steal, score, or defensive rebounds). That is a 12 percent increase from last season.

Long Beach is 21st in the country in adjusted tempo so it will get out on the break and challenge the Wildcats. We’ll see how well they hold up.

Gabe Levin

The 6-foot-7 big man leads Long Beach State in points (15.1) and rebounds (9.4) per game this season. In two instances this year, Levin has posted 20+ points and 10+ rebounds in the same game.

In the 49ers’ previous game — a 85-80 loss to Nebraska — the senior had 22 points and 16 rebounds.

Levin does most of his scoring inside, but he can step out and hit the 3-ball too, shooting 4-7 from that range this season. He also gets the free throw line a healthy amount, averaging 6.4 free throw attempts per contest. He is shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 80 percent from the charity stripe.

Levin is 83rd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, so keeping him off the glass might be difficult for Arizona.


Pre-game coverage


The matchup

via KenPom.com

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire