The Arizona Wildcats (8-3) return to the court Monday when they host the North Dakota State Bison (5-5) in McKale Center at 7 p.m. MST.
This is the first time Arizona has ever played North Dakota State, so let’s take a look at what the Bison bring to the table.
- 75-65 road loss to USC in Los Angeles (Bison led by 10 at one point)
- 83-59 road loss to Mississippi State in Starkville.
The Bison have the No. 214 (of 351) offense in college basketball, per KenPom. NDSU is averaging 104.1 points per 100 possessions, and does a lot of damage at the 3-point line.
The Bison are shooting 37.7 percent from behind the arc and 45 percent of their shot attempts are 3s. They have made 10 or more 3s in five games this season.
As you can see by the chart below, they have several guys who take them (the green shading is proportional to the player’s 3-point rate).
Five players are taking 3.0 3s or more per game.
Because of their tendency to space the floor and lack of size, NDSU is one of the worst offensive rebounding teams, ranking 339th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.
For similar reasons, the Bison do not get to the free throw line often, averaging 14.2 attempts per game and only shoot 69 percent from the stripe. Only eight Division I teams are attempting fewer free throws per game than NDSU this season.
When NDSU played USC, it shot 41 percent from the field, 10-29 (.345) from 3, and 7-9 from the free throw line.
The Bison are known for playing a slow, grind-it-out game, ranking 290th in the country in adjusted tempo.
The Bison rank a respectable 135th on defense, per KenPom. Opponents are shooting just 41.6 percent from the field against NDSU, including a low 32.9 percent from 3.
Because of its lack of size, NDSU is not an outstanding defensive rebounding team as it is -1.2 in rebound margin this season.
The Bison don’t create many turnovers, either, forcing just 10.7 per game. They rank a dismal 332 (of 351) in opponent turnover percentage.
Because NDSU is a solid defensive team, what that likely means is it does not gamble in the passing lanes. Arizona is similar in that regard, ranking 276th in opponent turnover percentage.
So the Bison present a much different challenge than the pressing New Mexico Lobos did Saturday.
Players to watch
Paul Miller, PG
The Bison will have quite the size advantage at point guard Monday with Paul Miller going up against Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Miller, a senior, stands at 6-foot-6.
He leads the Bison in points (16.0), rebounds (6.2), assists (4.0), and steals (0.9) per contest.
Miller shoots 44.3 percent from the field, and nearly half of his field goal attempts come from the 3-point line where he shoots 35.7 percent. He gets to line three times per game, making 80 percent of his free throws.
Miller has scored in double-figures in all but one game this year, and posted 30 points on 16 shots in a win over North Dakota.
A former wing, Miller averages 2.9 turnovers per game. It will be interesting to see how Arizona goes about defending him, seeing the height advantage he will have over the diminutive Jackson-Cartwright.
Perhaps the Wildcats will put a wing like Rawle Alkins or Allonzo Trier on him.
Tyson Ward, G/F
When Miller isn’t handling the ball, Ward probably is. The 6-foot-6 wing is second on NDSU in usage percentage.
Ward and Miller are NDSU’s two double-figure scorers. Ward is averaging 10.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game.
He does most of his scoring in the lane, but is shooting 34.4 percent from 3. He has scored in double figures in five of NDSU’s 10 games.
A.J. Jacobson, G/F
Arizona allowed New Mexico wing Dane Kuiper to make six 3s on Saturday, and if there is a guy who could do similar things Monday it’s Jacobsen.
The 6-foot-6 senior (it seems like all NDSU’s players are 6-foot-6) is shooting 19-34 (55.9 percent) from behind the arc this season, and is a career 41-percent 3-point shooter.
He shot 4-5 from 3 in NDSU’s road loss to Mississippi State.
Jacobson lines up at the 4, so Deandre Ayton will have to guard Jacobson on the perimeter when he is playing with Dusan Ristic. When Ayton moves to center, Ira Lee will likely be tasked with keeping Jacobson at bay.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV channel: Pac-12 Networks
Live stream: Pac-12.com/live
Announcers: Roxy Bernstein (play-by-play) and Don MacLean (analyst)
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire