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3-2-1, basketball: The Daily’s primer on the Arizona schools

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3-2-1, basketball: The Daily’s primer on the Arizona schools

Freshman Nico Mannion dunks over a South Dakota State defender at the McKale Center in a 71-64 Arizona win on Nov. 21, 2019. Mannion is tied for first in the Pac-12 with 5.8 assists per game. 

Having dropped five of its past six games, capped off with 76-62 defeat to No. 23 Colorado, the Washington men’s basketball team returns home to begin the second half of Pac-12 play against No. 22 Arizona and Arizona State.

3 numbers to know

80.7: The offensive attack posed by Arizona is among the most daunting that the NCAA has to offer. With an arsenal of weapons, the Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in scoring with 80.7 points per game, while Washington ranks near the conference’s bottom. However, the Huskies have proven relatively effective on the defensive end, holding opposing teams to an average of just 63.4 points per game. When the two meet on the court, it is essential that Washington avoids a shootout, which would heavily favor Arizona.

16.4: Arizona State leads the Pac-12 in steals and forces an average of 16.4 turnovers per game. The quick hands and defensive prowess of the Sun Devils could cause issues for the Huskies, who have been careless and lackadaisical with the ball at times, giving it away at the second-highest rate in the conference.

1.37: Arizona’s assist-to-turnover ratio is highest in the Pac-12, while the Huskies rank second to last in the same category. The Wildcats also lead the conference with a whopping 16.5 assists per game, illustrating head coach Sean Miller’s offensive system that preaches efficiency and unselfishness, which has been pivotal to the Wildcats’ success on that side of the floor so far.

2 players to watch

Remy Martin – Arizona State guard

It is hard to talk about Arizona State basketball without mentioning Martin. The 6-foot guard from Chatsworth, California, is second in the conference in scoring, with 19.7 points per game, while also leading the Sun Devils in both assists and steals. His 24-point performance in Sunday’s matchup with Arizona marked the seventh straight game in which he has netted at least 20 points.

Martin, who was named Second Team All-Pac-12 a year ago, has been a frequent visitor to SportsCenter this season for highlight-reel plays, such as the between-the-legs passes that have set up teammates for easy finishes. Head coach Mike Hopkins and the Huskies will need to be aware of Martin and his playmaking ability at all times when he visits Montlake.

Nico Mannion – Arizona guard

Though Zeke Nnaji leads the Wildcats in points, rebounds, and blocks, this team lives and dies through the play of freshman guard Nico Mannion. The ninth-ranked prospect in the 2019 freshman class leads the Pac-12 in assists, with 5.8 per game, while adding 14.1 points on 42.3% shooting.

The projected lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft is shifty, explosive, and a threat to opposing defenses from every spot on the floor. Mannion’s ability to create his own shot or provide for his teammates is the driving force behind Arizona’s high-octane attack.

1 recap of last week

The late-game heroics of junior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. lifted Arizona State over Arizona when the two faced off in Tempe on Sunday. After trailing by as many as 22 points in the first half, the Sun Devils fought their way back, manufacturing a 16-0 run before Verge Jr. laid the ball up with just 10.9 seconds on the clock, giving his team the lead.

On the following possession, the Wildcats seemed to pass up several promising shot opportunities en route to a heavily contested attempt from freshman guard Josh Green that never made it to the rim. Mannion, who was on fire from beyond the arc in the first half, was held to just four points after the break. 

Reach reporter James Price at Twitter: @_jamesprice_

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