2022 Maui Championship Preview: Arizona vs. Creighton

After a pair of dominating wins, the Wildcats are positioned to win their third title on the islands

Posted on November 23, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

After two games in the Maui Invitational, Arizona is on the brink of securing its third championship on the islands.

With a veteran-laden starting five and a skilled grad transfer as the first player off the bench, the Wildcats have a complete roster. Able to beat teams in a multitude of ways, there isn’t a position on Tommy Lloyd’s squad that’s considered a weakness.

But opponents have been throwing the kitchen sink at Arizona to stop their offense and Craig McDermott likely has something up his sleeve.

I preview the championship game here and my pick and that of Stephen Vilardo appear at the bottom.

No. 10 Creighton v. No. 14 ArizonaArizona football Pac-12

Wednesday, November 23
2:00 p.m. PT, ESPN

Overcoming foul trouble to 80 percent of its starting five, Arizona pulled away from San Diego State in the second half.

The resume victory can be lauded on Selection Sunday, but as Kobe Bryant once famously said, “What’s there to be happy about? Job’s not finished.”

Creighton presents a difficult challenge and the Bluejays have had a tougher path to the Championship Game. The Big East team knocked off No. 21 Texas Tech and No. 9 Arkansas on their way to the final, garnering valuable experience in the process.

Similar to the Wildcats in many ways, Greg McDermott’s team puts up numbers. Creighton is No. 30 in scoring offense with 84.7 points per game, No. 15 in field goal percentage at 52.04 percent, and No. 43 in assists per game with 17.0.

KenPom has the Bluejays as the No. 17 overall team in his rankings with the nation’s eighth-best offense.

Creighton guard Ryan Nembhard had 25 points vs Arkansas | Getty Images via NBC Sports

But Creighton does a much better job than Arizona in one vital area: limiting turnovers. The Bluejays commit just 10.3 per game compared to UA’s 18.2.

The discrepancy indicates that Tommy Lloyd’s game plan could be primarily focused on the defensive end. If Arizona forces Creighton into mistakes, the Wildcats’ chances of winning increase dramatically.

But if UA is not able to consistently generate turnovers it might be in trouble.

In that sense, the team that wins the fastbreak point margin will probably end up with the win. Arizona players such as Azuolas Tubelis might be aggressive going for steals and Kerr Kriisa will have the green light to shoot transition threes.

It’s a risky proposition, but Lloyd has consistently displayed a willingness to play aggressive defense to generate runs.

At the same time, Creighton does not have a clear player that can match up with Tubelis. The Lithuanian Lefty could eat from the opening possession and make the difference for the Cats.

Look for Arizona to take full advantage of its height on the interior and pound the ball inside all game.

Our Senior Writers’ Game Picks

—More from Dane Miller—