Arizona women’s basketball has to be feeling good about itself after the big win over Baylor on Sunday. The Wildcats wind up the pre-conference season with a stop at UT Arlington before they break for the Christmas holiday on Wednesday afternoon.
The Mavericks are an interesting opponent because they have three common opponents with Arizona. They had very different results against the two high major teams, but similar results against a common SWAC opponent.
Both teams handled Texas Southern, although Arizona had some difficulties with its defense against the Lady Tigers in the first half. UTA defeated TSU 102-53 in its second game of the season, while UA defeated the same team 89-55 just before heading off to Dallas to take on Baylor.
UTA also faced Kansas in Lawrence back in mid-November. The Jayhawks narrowly emerged with the 79-75 win. Turn the calendar to Dec. 7, and the Mavericks were blown out by Baylor in a 91-36 game in Waco.
UTA has plenty of experience against high major teams this season. In addition to facing Kansas and Baylor, the Mavericks also played Oklahoma when the Sooners were ranked No. 16. That game, played in Ft. Worth, was another close loss with OU walking away with the 89-80 victory.
This will be the first time this season that the Mavericks get to host a ranked team in their home arena. With their results on the road and on neutral courts, they’re definitely not an opponent Arizona should take lightly.
UTA has three players averaging double figures in scoring. Unfortunately for them, fifth-year guard Jireh Washington hasn’t played since Nov. 26. Over the first six games of the season, she averaged 14.3 points per game, putting her just behind redshirt senior forward Starr Jacobs and her 14.7 PPG.
Kayla White is the third player in double figures with 12.8 PPG. White hasn’t missed as many games as Washington, but she has missed two of the Mavericks’ 11 games. One of them was the team’s last game. She’s yet another experienced guard, playing her fifth season for UTA after spending four at SMU.
Jacobs has the size to give Arizona’s frontcourt some challenges. She’s listed at 6-foot-2, coming in at the same height as both Cate Reese and Esmery Martinez. In addition to her 14.7 PPG, she grabs 5.9 rebounds. She also plays a lot of minutes, getting over 30 minutes in seven of the team’s 11 games this season. She has played less than 20 minutes in just two games this year.
Jacobs was last year’s Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and Sun Belt Tournament MVP. UTA moved to the WAC this season, and she’s all over the preseason lists for that conference, too. She was selected the preseason Player of the Year by the media and a member of the All-WAC First Team by both the media and the coaches. ESPN also has her as the preseason Player of the Year for the WAC. Her Hoop Stats placed her on the preseason watch list for the Becky Hammond Mid-Major Player of the Year.
Playing against a dominant frontcourt player on the road is a good test for the Wildcats. Against Kansas, another team with a dominant post, Jacobs had 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting. She went to the line four times and grabbed six rebounds. She also had two assists and three steals.
Arizona will be heading into Pac-12 play on Dec. 29. Getting a final tune-up on the road against a team with a top mid-major player is a good way to head into the break.
Arizona Wildcats (9-1, 0-0 Pac-12) @ UT Arlington Mavericks (6-5, 0-0 WAC)
When: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022 at 2 p.m. MST
Where: College Park Center in Arlington, Tex.
Radio: Listen to the call by Derrick Palmer online on The Varsity Network or on the radio at KTUC 1400 AM.
Stats: Arizona Live Stats
Rankings: Arizona is ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press and No. 16 by the WBCA. UTA is not ranked in either major poll.
The Wildcats are No. 29 in the NET and No. 21 in Her Hoop Stats’ rankings. The Mavericks are No. 135 in the NET and No. 119 according to HHS.
Projections: Her Hoop Stats projects Arizona as the winner regardless of where the game is played. On the road, the Wildcats have an 87.1 percent win probability and are projected to win by 14.4 points.
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