On Friday, Jan. 1, the Arizona Wildcats will host the No. 1 team in the country, Stanford, at 5 p.m. MST in McKale Center. This will be the first time the Wildcats have played a No. 1-ranked team since 2006 when they played Maryland.
After playing an out-of-conference game against Idaho, Arizona will get back into the Pac-12 play by facing its toughest competition of the season yet — facing the No. 1 team in the nation.
Stanford is coming into this game with a 7-0 record. The Wildcat’s are currently 0-4 all time against No.1 teams in the nation.
“I don’t treat any game like bigger than another, I think you can’t do that," head coach Adia Barnes said. "You have to take one game at a time.”
Previous matchups against No. 1 teams in the nation:
- Nov. 18, 2006: Maryland-75, Arizona- 61
- Nov. 19, 1998: Purdue-65, Arizona-58
- Jan. 2, 1995: Tennessee-109, Arizona-57
- Dec. 7, 1993: Tennessee-65, Arizona-63
Here are some things to watch for on Friday.
Stanford is coming into this game as the best rebounding team in the Pac-12 statistically. They come in the game first in total rebounds, first in defensive rebounds and second in offensive rebounds. Arizona enters the game a little lower in the list sitting at fifth in total rebounds, fourth in defensive rebounds and ninth in offensive rebounds.
Barnes talked about the importance of limiting transition points and worrying about boxing out to secure the defensive rebound.
“We're always going to be one of the best teams in the country in transition defense, because that's an area I value," Barnes said. "They go after the boards hard, so we have to box out. It has been an area where we have to get better in.”
In their last six games, the Wildcats averaged just under 27 points per game off the bench. During the Wildcats' previous game, they scored a whopping 58 of the teams' total 96 points against the Idaho Vandals.
Aari McDonald will enter Friday’s matchup as the leading scorer in the Pac-12 at 20.1 points per game and is also leading the country in total points amongst active players at 1,900 points. She has scored double-digits in 73 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation.
No fans in McKale Center
For the eighth game in a row, there will be no fans allowed in the stadium.
“It sucks. Our momentum comes from our fans, but so far our bench has done a great job to keep us encouraged and motivated and pumped up,” McDonald said.
“I wish we had fans because honestly I feel that if we had fans we would have sold out McKale," Barnes said. "I think we are manufacturing more energy from the bench. I think we are finding ways to give that to each other and it's been better.”
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