Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats showing resiliency while national media pundits lose faith


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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)


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The Arizona Wildcats can stomach what will be discussed Saturday morning on College GameDay. They have shown fortitude to this point in their most difficult stretch.

Some of their fans may not be able to handle what will be said.


The nation will watch and listen about the Arizona Wildcats’ season and not all of it will be positive despite the fact their record is 24-2 overall and they lead the Pac-12 with an 11-2 record. If somebody told you before the season that Arizona would have that record at this point, what would you say?

ESPN’s crew will discuss Arizona and Colorado losing two important starters to season-ending injuries — Brandon Ashley and Spencer Dinwiddie, respectively.



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They’ll talk about Arizona’s 3-2 record since Ashley went down with his foot injury at Cal. Count how many times you will hear about Arizona’s offensive struggles without him. Digger Phelps, Jalen Rose, Jay Bilas and Co. will discuss how Colorado has shown fortitude without Dinwiddie, winning five of its last six games.

Arizona has lost its mojo they will say, without Ashley. Seth Davis of CBS and Sports Illustrated mentioned via a Tweet that Arizona has lost that the most in its last three games, more so than Syracuse and Kansas.

Keeping a tally now: Davis is the one who predicted Belmont over Arizona in the NCAA tournament last season and mentioned via Twitter this week that Arizona is not a Final Four-caliber team and that the Wildcats are not as good as their No. 4 ranking.

MN-Magic number to win regular-season title
z-Eliminated from regular-season title contention

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ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi went so far as to say last night that of the top 4 ranked teams — Syracuse, Florida, Wichita State and Arizona — that the Wildcats are the most tenuous to keep their No. 1 seed.

The comments of Davis and Lunardi were made after top-ranked Syracuse lost at home to a Boston College team that was 6-19 overall and 2-10 in the ACC. Florida also barely survived last night with a five-point victory at home against an unspectacular Auburn team that is 12-12.

Does Arizona deserve to be scrutinized with how its played in the last five games? Yes. The numbers indicate through this site’s productivity rating that Arizona has experienced its two worst games of the season against ASU on Friday and Utah last night.

The Wildcats followed their season-low .356 productivity rating against ASU with an unfavorable rating of .391 last night. Arizona’s top production players without Ashley — Nick Johnson, T.J. McConnell and Aaron Gordon — have struggled in the five games without their fallen teammate.

Nick Johnson has a team-best productivity rating of .657. In the last five games starting with the Cal game, his rating is .335.

Gordon’s overall rating is .565. His rating in the last five games is only .389.

McConnell’s overall rating: .468. He has a .400 rating in the last five games.

Kaleb Tarczewski is producing with a respectable rating of .567 in the same span. His overall rating is .595.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s productivity rating in the last five games is .641. His overall rating is .597. He is the lone significant contributor whose rating has increased in Arizona’s most difficult stretch.


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PAC-12 RPI (
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What should not get lost in these numbers is the fact Arizona has played three of the last five games on the road in hostile environments against good teams. At the time Arizona played Cal, ASU and Utah at their venues, the Golden Bears, Sun Devils and Utes were a combined 39-3 at home.

The Wildcats lost to Cal on a last-second jumper by Justin Cobbs. They took ASU into double-overtime and had a chance to win on a McConnell shot, but it was rejected by the best shot-blocker in Pac-12 history (Jordan Bachynski).

Those losses are not the equivalent of losing at home to a Boston College team with an RPI rating of No. 169.

Let’s give some credit to Cal and ASU. Arizona has no shame losing to those NCAA Tournament-caliber teams. Having Ashley may have not meant a victory against them.

What about UCLA’s easy victory at Cal last night, you say? Arizona beat a dangerous Utah team in Salt Lake City, where the Bruins lost earlier this season to the Utes. Utah coach Larry Krystowiak deserves coach of the year consideration in the Pac-12 for how he has restored that once-proud program under Rick Majerus.

It’s easy to look at Arizona from afar (such as the East coast) and pick the Wildcats apart because of the injury to Ashley and the cold spell experienced by Johnson, Gordon and McConnell. But little or no thought is given to the opposition and the circumstances of each challenge the Wildcats face.

Arizona’s victory over Utah last night topped the ones at Michigan and UCLA, in my opinion, because of what the Wildcats overcame. Gordon fouled out with more than nine minutes remaining in regulation. Arizona had every excuse to crumble in the end but Johnson’s two jump shots in the waning minutes saved them.

The Wildcats have shown resiliency all season when things look the most bleak.

Miller can be assured of Arizona’s resolve rather than concern himself with those who look for reasons that his team is on shaky ground.

The Wildcats can brace themselves for that during the College GameDay broadcast. Try to stomach it yourself.

[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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