Much like Arizona's first exhibition opponent, Chico State already has a game under its belt before heading to McKale Center. The Wildcats lost in their exhibition opener to Pacific 60-66 in a tight fought battle.
The Wildcats are coming off a banner year, winning the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) regular season title. Chico State has also been picked to win the conference this season due to returning a good portion of the team.
Chico State returns eleven of thirteen players from last season's team, including leading scorer, Damario Sims. Sims was one of the key players for a Wildcat team that went 25-8 last season. However, the senior struggled against Pacific, scoring just two points and grabbing a single rebound in the loss.
Joining Sims in the starting rotation is Sean Park, who led the team in minutes and scoring against the Tigers. He put fourteen points on the board, being the team's only double-digit scorer and also added two assists and two steals on the night.
Completing the three-guard backcourt is Spencer Moyer. As a senior leader, Moyer is attempting to fill in the gap that was left by Jay Flores at the end of last season. He was one of four Wildcats with two assists, adding six points of his own as well.
The lone forward in the starting rotation is Amir Carraway. The 6-foot-5 junior is one of the younger players on the team, but has made an impact since he came to campus. Carraway played vital minutes a season ago and looks to continue that this season after having a seven-point, three-rebound performance in the opener.
Evening out the size disparity in the starting lineup is seven-footer Jason Conrad. The senior is the tallest player in Chico State history and plays like it. Conrad had two blocks and eight rebounds in the loss, adding just four points on the offensive end.
Rashad Parker should be the first Wildcat off the bench for most of the season. He is a six-foot shooting guard that has a knack for shooting three pointers. Against Pacific, the junior had two three-pointers and another bucket for a total of eight points. Parker can be dangerous if he gets hot.
Giving some backup at the forward position is James Staniland. The senior forward was a role player last season and should do the same this year, as he had a modest five points in the opener.
Mike Rosaroso will see some quality minutes when the starters aren't on the floor. He was held scoreless, but helped run the offense with the second squad and dished out two assists. In addition, Rosaroso grabbed two rebounds while manning the point.
A big defensive threat that Arizona must look out for is Nate Appel. The forward has quick hands for his size, as Appel stole two balls against Pacific, but wasn't very effective on the offensive side of the ball, only hitting one of four shots. He added two free throws for four points.
Similar to Humboldt State, Chico State also has a player that transferred from a Division-I school. Sam Hicks transferred to Chico State from Boise State last season. He will spend most of the season backing up Conrad, but won't add the same type of size to the lineup. He had just two points in eleven minutes in the game against Pacific.
Jordan Semple played the most minutes off the bench in the opener, despite having a team high in turnovers with three. He also added a steal and a block to go along with six points and three rebounds. Semple can play all over the court and may be a pain if Arizona's forwards can't keep up with him.
One of the biggest stories of the game will be how Arizona matches up with an experienced, cohesive team. Taking nothing away from the blowout victory over Humboldt State, the Lumberjacks were a team still trying to find their identity. Chico State knows the identity of the team and will head into McKale Center looking for a victory.
Another major focal point of the game is how Arizona big man Kaleb Tarczewski plays when facing a true center. In the first matchup of the season, Tarczewski had one of the best performances on the floor. However, the tallest player he faced was still three inches shorter than him. Going up against another seven-footer should prove to be a good test for the freshman.
With Arizona winning by a large margin against Humboldt State, it is difficult to look for any specific improvements, but the challenge against Chico State should give both Wildcats a slightly better feel for their respective teams going forward in the season.