Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd at a press conference

Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd waves while speaking during Pac-12 Conference men’s NCAA college basketball media day Oct. 13, 2021, in San Francisco. Arizona hired Tommy Lloyd after is now in charge at Arizona after the scandal-tinged Sean Miller was fired. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

  • Arizona is a 7.5-point favorite against Wichita State
  • The Wildcats are 3-0 straight up and ATS
  • Wichita State is 3-0, 1-2 ATS

Arizona (3-0) is a 7.5-point favorite against Wichita State in the Roman Main Event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday at 10 pm ET on ESPNU. T-Mobile is the site of the Pac-12 postseason tournament.

Wichita State (3-0) guard Tyson Etienne, the preseason American Athletic Conference player of the year, missed the victory over Tarleton State on Tuesday because of illness but is expected to play against the Wildcats.

Wichita State vs Arizona Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Wichita State Shockers +270 +7 .5 (-106) Over 136.5 (-110)
Arizona Wildcats -345 -7.5 (-114) Under 136.5 (-110)

Odds from FanDuel on Nov. 18.

Wichita State(+550) is the third-choice to win the AAC behind Memphis (+195) and Houston (+250). Wichita State had three fewer victories than the Final Four Cougars a year ago but won the Covid-disrupted regular-season title based on winning percentage.

Arizona and Oregon (both +350) are the seconds choices in the Pac-12 behind No. 2 UCLA (+100). The Wildcats have won their last two by more than 50 points, a first since 1920-21.

New Direction for Arizona

Former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd is off to a fast start in his first season as head coach with the Wildcats, who have won their first three games by an average of 45 points, although none of the opponents are ranked inside the KenPom top 300.

Gonzaga has found ways to make good use of its international big men in the last dozen years or so, and Lloyd is doing the same with post players Azuolas Tubelis from Lithuania and Christian Koloko of the Cameroon.

Tubelis, a 6’11 second-year freshman, leads the team at 16 points per game and is averaging 6.3 rebounds. Koloko, a 7’1 junior, is averaging 14 points, 6.7 rebounds and four blocked shots per game. Some NBA mock drafts project Tubelis as a late first-round pick in 2022, provided his outside shot improves. He is shooting 67.9 percent this season.

With an interior presence that also includes 7′ freshman Oumar Ballo of Mali, the Wildcats have held opponents to 27.6 percent from the floor, the top-ranked field goal  percentage defense in NCAA Division I. Ballo is averaging 10 points and 7.3 rebounds.

Shockers Vets Return

American Athletic Conference preseason player of the year Tyson Etienne has battled an illness that kept him out of a 65-51 victory over Tarleton State on Tuesday, but the Shockers have held it together in the interim.

Ricky Council IV and Dexter Dennis have taken turns leading the Shockers in scoring after Etienne, a 6’2 guard, scored 16 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining to beat Jacksonville State 60-57 in the season opener. Etienne did not start the second game, 64-58 victory over South Alabama, and was 1 of 10 from the floor in 32 minutes.

 

Etienne averaged 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists a year ago, when he shared league MVP honors with Houston’s Quentin Grimes. He declared for the NBA draft last year but pulled his name out on July 7, instantly improving the Shockers’ chances to defend their AAC title.

Dennis, 6’5, and Udeze, 6’8, also started last season, and four of the Shockers’ top six scorers returned. Abilene Christian transfer Joe Pleasant, 6’8,  adds size inside but has yet to find his footing in the rotation. Dennis has made a 3-pointer in 12 straight games.

Mathurin a Top Prospect

Arizona sophomore Bennedict Mathurin, a 6’7 wing, was named to the Pac-12 preseason all-conference team after coming on strong late in his freshman year, when he averaged 10.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 12 games as a starter.

Mathurin, who has been projected as mid-first round pick in the 2022 NBA draft, had 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the 97-45 victory over North Dakota State on Tuesday. He also declared for the NBA draft before opting to return to school.

Mathurin appears to be back on track after shooting 2 of 13 from the field in the season opener against Northern Arizona. He shot 41.8 from three-point range a year ago, sixth in the Pac-12.

By the Numbers

The Shockers have two two of three in the series, the last in a 65-55 upset of No. 6 Arizona in the 2016 NCAA tournament in Providence, R.I.  The Wildcats are 27th in the KenPom rankings and Wichita State is 67th.

Arizona has made 50.3 percent of its field goal attempts and has a plus-14.7 rebounding margin against its over-matched opponents. Wichita State is shooting 39.1 percent from the field.  Neither team has faced an opponent ranked higher in Ken Pom than No. 128 Jacksonville State.

The pick: Arizona -7.5 (-114)

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Jack Magruder

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