Busting Brackets

Arizona Basketball: 3 keys to victory for Wildcats against Clemson in Sweet 16

Arizona Basketball looks to make its first Elite Eight appearance since 2015, taking on the Clemson Tigers. What do they need to do to win?

Dayton v Arizona
Dayton v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Arizona Basketball looks to make its first Elite Eight appearance since 2015, taking on the Clemson Tigers. What do they need to do to win?

After beating Long Beach State and Dayton to get to the Sweet 16, Arizona Basketball will take on the Clemson Tigers for a spot in the Elite 8. The Tigers have shown that they can hang with high-powered offenses but the Wildcats pose their toughest challenge yet.

Here are the keys for Arizona to get the win.

1. Get Caleb Love Going Early

This one is obvious to Wildcat fans. On the biggest stages and in the biggest games, give the ball to your best player. Love enters this game averaging 18.1 points per game on the season and 18.5 throughout Arizona's first two games in this tournament. Against Long Beach State, the Wildcats were able to steal plenty of transition baskets before running into the variations of zone defense Long Beach State threw at them in the half-court.

Arizona's ability to get a couple easy layups and open 3's for Love against an average Clemson defense could get the Arizona star in a groove and set up for a high scoring night for the rest of the Wildcat offense. Arizona's ability to get out and run for the bulk of this game will be of note as this Sweet Sixteen game tips off Thursday night.

2. Establish Oumar Ballo's Post Presence Against PJ Hall

Oumar Ballo supplemented the Arizona offense with 11 points in the first round and 8 in the round of 32 game against Dayton. Ballo could have a massive impact on this game by using his size as a deterrent to Clemson's guards near the basket and to score baskets down low. Ballo's need to be assertive is two-fold in this game with the lift he can provide on offense as well as doing it against Clemson's leading scorer PJ Hall. Scoring just over 18 PPG, it is no secret how important Hall is in making this Clemson team go offensively. That being said, Clemson needs him on the floor at his best.

Hall has had some foul trouble this season by fouling out of seven contests. If Arizona can get the ball to Ballo against Hall to tire him out on the defensive end and get him in foul trouble, it could benefit the Wildcats greatly on the defensive end of the floor to place more emphasis on defending the Clemson guards.

3. Defend Joe Girard III and Chase Hunter

Girard III comes into this game as the highest-scoring Clemson guard at 15.3 PPG but Chase Hunter has had the hot hand through the first two games in this tournament. Against New Mexico, Hunter scored 21 points on 50% shooting with six assists and was just as solid against Baylor with 20 points and 6 assists. Clemson needs similar production in this game from Hunter to keep up with the Wildcats as well as their star Girard III to get hot.

Arizona must do a great job of defending Girard III on the perimeter without fouling the sharpshooter. Scoring 13 points against Baylor and the multiple defenses thrown at the Tigers, Girard III was held to 1-5 from 3 but continued his great shooting from the foul line to bring his average to 95%. With the ability to get hot at any time, Arizona will need to play great team defense to defend the abundance of screening actions Clemson employs to open up Girard in spots all over the floor.

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The stylistic differences in this game with Arizona ranking 7th in possessions per game and Clemson at 236th will be telling in how this game unfolds. The Wildcats could build a large lead in this game if it can be played at their pace with the ability to get easy baskets.