The Arizona Wildcats won their first early-season tournament in five years last weekend when they knocked off Pepperdine, Penn and Wake Forest in the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim.
Here are some numbers to know from the successful championship run.
Chase Jeter and Dylan Smith each averaged 15.3 points per game in the Wooden Legacy. Yes, each. Prior to that, Jeter was only averaging 4.7 ppg while Smith was averaging 6.2.
Both seniors were super efficient. Jeter made 77 percent of his shots, while Smith shot 62 percent, including a blistering 5-for-8 (.615) from 3.
If those two can continue to produce anywhere close to that, Arizona’s offense will be so tough to defend, seeing that they are flanked by a dynamic trio of freshmen in Nico Mannion, Zeke Nnaji, and Josh Green, who combined to average 43.9 ppg in Anaheim.
The Wildcats currently rank fifth nationally in offensive efficiency, a number that could be sustainable.
Why is Arizona’s offense so dangerous? It shoots the 3 well. The Wildcats converted 46.9 percent of their 3-ball attempts in Anaheim, raising their percentage to 42.9 on the season, the eighth-best mark in the country.
Amazing turnaround considering they only shot 33.6 percent from distance last season.
Arizona apparently likes to see other teams make 3s, too. Its opponents shot 40.3 percent from behind the arc in Anaheim. That included a 13-for-27 outing by Pepperdine, which nearly upset Arizona.
Safe to say the Wildcats have to tighten up their perimeter defense moving forward.
Another reason Arizona almost lost to Pepperdine? Free-throw shooting. The Wildcats shot 14 for 24 from the stripe against the Waves, an unacceptable 58.3 percent. They followed that up with an 18-for-21 (.857) performance against Penn, but then regressed to 17-for-24 (.708) against Wake Forest, giving them a cumulative FT percentage of 71.0 in Anaheim.
Arizona’s season mark of 71.9 ranks 135th in the country, only slightly above the nation’s average.
Considering the size advantage Arizona had in all three games, a +4.3 rebounding margin is nothing special.
Jeter notably had a poor performance against Pepperdine, accounting for zero rebounds. To his credit, he bounced back with six boards against Penn and nine against Wake Forest.
For the season, Arizona ranks 127th and 122nd in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, respectively.
Baylor, who Arizona faces on the road Saturday, is the No. 11 offensive rebounding team in the country, so the Wildcats will need to step it up considerably in Waco to avoid another loss to the Bears. Worth repeating that they outrebounded UA 51-19 in McKale Center last season.
Arizona had a +6.3 average scoring margin in Anaheim, but that jumped all the way to +10.6 when Mannion was on the court.
How’d he do in his first college games away from McKale Center? He averaged 16.3 points, 7.3 assists, and just 2.3 turnovers per game while shooting 51 percent from the field. All while nursing a sore hip. Not too shabby.