Bulldogs hit road seeking upset of third-ranked Wildcats

Dec 2, 2014 - 4:31 PM Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Arizona Wildcats begin a five-game homestand on Tuesday when they bring in the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs for a non-conference bout at the McKale Center.

The Bulldogs snapped a two-game slide in the 2014 Paradise Jam this past Saturday, as they ran over visiting Brevard College, 78-63. The win allowed them to even their overall record (3-3), while earning them a victory in their home debut. They will be at home for their next three games after this quick trip.

Six opponents have stood in Arizona's way and all six have been vanquished. The Wildcats took part in the Maui Invitational last week and posted wins over Missouri (72-53), Kansas State (72-68) and San Diego State (61-59). The next leg of the current homestand will be a tough one, as ninth-ranked Gonzaga comes to town on Saturday.

This game marks the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Wildcats on the hardwood.

Against Brevard College, Gardner-Webb flexed its Division I muscles, shooting an impressive 54.4 percent from the floor, including a 7-of-17 effort from 3- point range. There were still weak spots in the 15-point win, however, The Bulldogs were out-rebounded, 37-34) and they made only 9-of-20 attempts from the free-throw line. Jerome Hill notched 32 points to go along with eight rebounds.

Hill (18.5 ppg, 8 rpg) is an excellent scorer and rebounder for the Bulldogs. In fact, he leads the team in both categories, while connecting on 48.8 percent of his shots from the floor. He has scored in double figures in all six games. Tyrell Nelson (12.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) provides Hill with a solid companion on the front lines, while Jarvis Davis (10.7 ppg, 6 rpg) adds strong efforts in scoring and rebounding. Tyler Strange (9.5 ppg, 7.2 apg) has had the opportunity to be a better scorer, but he is shooting just 28.8 percent from the floor. That hasn't hurt his impressive assist totals, however.

T.J. McConnell drilled a 3-pointer with 7:33 to play to give Arizona a 50-48 lead against San Diego State, and the Wildcats managed to hold on down the stretch to claim the Maui Invitational title. The game was quite the defensive struggle, with the Wildcats only making 36.5 percent of their shots from the floor, while the Aztecs turned in a 43.8 percent effort. Stanley Johnson scored 18 points and came up a rebound shy of a double-double for the Wildcats, but he missed more shots than he made (4-of-14).

Putting the clamps down on defense is Arizona's specialty. The Wildcats are allowing only 59.5 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting, despite playing a reasonably challenging early gambit. Johnson (13.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) hasn't lit the world on fire in his first six games as a collegian, but he is second on the team in scoring and rebounding. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (13.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) leads in both areas, despite coming off the bench in all six games. Brandon Ashley (12.7 ppg) is another fine scorer, while McConnell (8.2 ppg, 6.2 apg, 2.8 spg) is a terrific point guard.

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