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Arizona looking for versatility from Josh Green

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His defense and rebounding will be critical in Oregon

NCAA Basketball: San Jose State at Arizona Jacob Snow-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Green was the Arizona Wildcats’ official player of the game in the win over Arizona State, even though he did not lead the team in scoring or rebounding.

But he pretty much did everything other than hit a 3-pointer, including stuff that does not show up on the stat sheet. The freshman wing had 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, three blocks, and deflected a bunch of passes in the 75-47 victory over the Sun Devils.

It might have been his best game as a Wildcat. It certainly was his most well-rounded.

“We keep deflections, he led us in deflections and then he scored in transition, he was efficient,” said coach Sean Miller. “So, coaching him and trying to bring out the best in him, it’s always the word versatility. The more versatile he is, I think the better our team and the better player he is. And we really are trying to show him ways he can do that.”

Rebounding is one of them. It has been one of Arizona’s biggest problems this season, but Green’s activity on the glass goes a long way toward solving it. He has had six or more rebounds in three of his last four games.

Then when you add Stone Gettings back into the mix on top of that...

“Now all of a sudden you have a group of guys that outrebounds the opponent,” Miller said.

But where Green’s biggest impact might be this season is on the perimeter. He is becoming the defensive stopper the Wildcats have lacked since Kadeem Allen graduated a couple years ago.

Green has the length and quickness to hound ball handlers, and the toughness and willingness to do the dirty work. He’s a former Australian rules football player, after all.

Just look at Remy Martin’s numbers vs. Arizona. The lightning-quick guard was held to 20 points on 7-of-19 shooting on Saturday. Last season, when the Wildcats did not have Green, he averaged 29 points per game on 58 percent shooting.

And when the Wildcats take on Oregon, the nation’s No. 6 offense, on Thursday, it might not be how many points Green scores that will be the difference in the game, but how many he prevents.

“You didn’t ask me about (Oregon wing) Chris Duarte, I’ll tell you this—I don’t know if we played against a better wing than him,” Miller said. “He was the National Junior College Player of the Year last year. He’s really efficient, and he’s a very good player. So Josh will have, at times, the assignment of guarding him and that’ll be a great challenge for him.”