So, how was your Saturday night? It couldn’t have been worse than the University of Arizona men’s basketball team in McKale Center.
It was the scene of what fans might think was a crime when Baylor did what 52 other non-conference opponents couldn’t do over the last few years – beat Arizona in the famed building. But the Bears did, winning 58-49 behind an extending zone and rebounding performance of the ages when it comes to an Arizona opponent.
Or was it just Arizona’s failure to get rebounds, something that was going to be the problem all season and Saturday night it was just magnified.
Arizona shot a chill-factor 35 percent from the floor and was outrebounded 50-19, um, wait, 51-19 for the game. It was so bad for Arizona that UA changed the rebounding numbers after the game was long over to reflect the right number, 51 to 19.
The apparent upset was so big – and bad – that it brought shade of Washington State beating Arizona in 2005 which snapped a 38-game UA winning streak.
What was worse – couldn’t it be? – Arizona prepared for an improved rebounding effort after having a mediocre one against Alabama last weekend.
“I don’t know if I’ve been part of stat sheet where (it was) 50-19,” Miller said in what was a three minute, 40 second post-game media session. “It’s tough to really expand from there. It steals your confidence. Our leading rebounder in the game was Brandon Williams with three, and he’s a guard.
“When you’re dominated like that it starts to feel funny. Certainly, we didn’t execute against the zone. Lost confidence as the game wore on. I credit Baylor.”
In fact, there was little to credit Arizona with. It did have a moment or two but those are/were hard to find. Figure that the defeat could have been much, much worse. Baylor missed 10 of 20 free throws, four of which were front ends of one-and-ones. It was a miserable 4 of 19 from the 3-point line. And it had 20 turnovers.
Arizona (7-4) couldn’t benefit. In fact, it was allergic to the basket and basketball. UA was just 19 of 53 from the floor and the zone proved to be too much.
“We didn’t do anything well,” Miller said. “This is the first time this group played against a zone. Obviously, we had that deer in the headlights look.”
All game. No worse than in the final minutes when Arizona clanked its way into a loss after 3-point miss after 3-point miss.
“it’s about putting players in the right position and drive to pass and moving the ball quickly,” Miller said about facing the zone. “Getting it in the middle and allowing those guys to turn and face. You learn more and more as your season goes, but we didn’t make good plays when we got it in the middle.”
One was very glaring, Chase Jeter got the ball near the basket, appeared to have an easy jumper but decided to pass only to see the ball turned over shortly after.
It was that kind of night where nothing seemed to go right in a game that Arizona couldn’t afford to lose when it comes to the NCAA tournament possibilities. Win this one and remain status quo for March. Lose it and March becomes mayhem.
Now comes the question of confidence this team will have, one where Miller has said “has little room for error.”
What does Miller expect from the recovery of this, emotionally and otherwise?
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to find out. It’s kind of the first time for this group.”