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Let’s get this straight: Arizona is 0-3 against Cal and UCLA, but the Golden Bears and Bruins each lost to Stanford and Washington State on Thursday night and the Cardinal and Cougars are 0-3 against the Wildcats?
This is the predictably unpredictable season of college basketball, one in which any of 30 teams can potentially win the national championship.
UCLA’s loss to the Cougars, who were 2-14 and without one of their best players (Mike Ladd), is the Pac-12’s equivalent of TCU upsetting Kansas and Penn State shocking Michigan. The Bruins were out-rebounded 43-20, a sign that Washington State wanted the win more than the Bruins, who were contending for a Pac-12 title.
Instead of celebrating the fall of UCLA and Cal, Arizona must prepare for a similar threat from ASU on Saturday. The Wildcats dominated the Sun Devils 71-54 in Tempe on Jan. 19, but that does not mean a thing as long as dynamic Jahii Carson has the ball in his hands.
If the UA secures the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament with a victory over ASU, it will likely play nemesis Colorado, which appears to be slotted in the No. 5 spot. The Buffaloes would likely play No. 12 Washington State in the first day of games Wednesday in Las Vegas.
The Buffaloes defeated Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament title game last year and are 3-2 against the UA since joining the Pac-12. But again, anything goes in college hoops this season, so why not the possibility for an entertaining rematch with Colorado?
Speaking of anything goes, how about this small lineup for Arizona heading into the final weekend of the regular season and the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments ahead?
Jordin Mayes at point guard, Mark Lyons at shooting guard, Nick Johnson at the wing spot, Solomon Hill at power forward and Kaleb Tarczewski at the post? Have capable players like Kevin Parrom, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Angelo Chol rotate in to this lineup with Mayes and Johnson alternating at the point.
That would alleviate Lyons most of the point-guard duties and allow him to do what he does best: Create scoring opportunities for himself, which could possibly open avenues for others by attracting defenders.
This lineup will not start against ASU because Parrom will play his last game at McKale Center and he deserves the opportunity to start.
It would be interesting to see, however, Mayes handle the same role as UCLA’s Larry Drew II and be a distributor first and foremost. He broke out of a season-long slump at UCLA with eight points and two assists. Memo to Sean Miller: In this wacky season, why not try something off the wall? Or would it be off the wall judging from Arizona’s struggles in the last few weeks?
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner