Top-ranked Arizona hits road for showdown with Michigan

The Sports NetworkDecember 14, 2013 

Ann Arbor, MI ( - The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats put their flawless record in harm's way this weekend, as they take on the Michigan Wolverines in an intriguing non-conference matchup at the Crisler Center on Saturday afternoon.

Sean Miller's Wildcats have ascended to the top spot in the Top 25 thanks to a 10-0 start to the season. Along the way the team has captured the NIT Season Tip Off title with a marquee win over Duke. The team made light work of New Mexico State on Wednesday, 74-48, to remain unbeaten.

John Beilein's Wolverines started the season with four wins in the first five games, but have alternated wins and losses since. Michigan however, enters this contest off its largest margin of victory, moving to 4-0 at home with last weekend's 107-53 blasting of Houston Baptist.

Arizona holds a 6-2 series advantage against Michigan and won the last meeting, a 61-60 thriller in the semifinals of the 2004 NIT Season Tip Off.

The Wildcats' defensive dominance was on full display in their first game as the top team in the country, as they shook off a slow start to rout New Mexico State, holding the Aggies to a mere 48 points, on .326 shooting, while boasting of a 38-22 advantage in rebounding. Despite a modest point total, Arizona still delivered on 51.8 percent of its shots in the win. Brandon Ashley led four Wildcats in double figures with 15 points. Kaleb Tarczewski added 14 points, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Arizona has produced at both ends of the floor this season, averaging 77.4 ppg on .502 shooting, while limiting opponents to just 58.0 ppg and well under 40 percent shooting (.364). Arizona also ranks second in the nation in rebounding margin at a hefty +14.3. Junior guard Nick Johnson leads the team in scoring at 15.7 ppg. Ashley is next in line at 12.3 ppg. Gordon may not get the press that other freshman phenoms have gotten this season, but he has certainly made an immediate impact in Tucson, averaging 11.9 ppg, while pacing the team on the boards (8.5 rpg).

Despite a less than stellar overall record, Michigan has a lot in common with Arizona, as the Wolverines have also shown great balance. The team is enjoying a +18.2 scoring margin, averaging 80.3 ppg, while allowing just 62.1 ppg. Star guard Nik Stauskas is the driving force for Michigan, as he has shot the lights out this season, converting 51.2 percent overall, including a sizzling 50 percent from behind the arc (24-of-48), which has led to a strong 18.9 ppg. Fellow guard Caris LeVert is next in the scoring column at 13.9 ppg. Glenn Robinson III (12.2 ppg) and Mitch McGary (9.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg) provide frontcourt balance.

Stauskas was definitely on his game against Houston Baptist last time out, as he went 7-of-11 from the floor, including six 3-pointers en route to a game- high 25 points. Robinson poured in 17 points, Derrick Walton Jr. and Zach Irvin added 14 points apiece, while McGary had a strong game across the board, with 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals.

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