If Sean Miller wasn’t sick enough going into Thursday night’s game with Southern California, it’s likely he left Galen Center feeling even worse. Yes, it was that bad for Arizona in its 80-57 loss to the Trojans.
Arizona was the team that couldn’t shoot straight, missing open shots and taking plenty of bad ones. As good as they looked Saturday night against the Oregon State Beavers that’s how bad the Wildcats looked against USC.
Every. Game. Is. A. Season.
This year you don’t know which Arizona team will show up. Or what kind of team Miller has quite frankly.
But, didn’t Miller say his team was an offensively challenged team just a couple of weeks ago? Maybe Saturday’s game was the aberration and not the norm when it hit a season-high 13 3-pointers in the win.
The loss snapped a five-game win streak against the Trojans. Arizona hadn’t been this bad against USC since the 1970s, when UA lost 100-76 in 1973. Rarely does a Sean Miller-coached team look like this. Maybe last season against Buffalo in the NCAA tournament? Or a time in the Bahamas to begin last season? Double-digit defeats are rare.
Clearly, shooting under 30 percent is. Miller called it a “miserable night” offensively.
No starter or player shot 50 percent or better.
UA’s percentage was the lowest in the Arizona/Miller era. Not since it lost to ASU in 2009 when it shot 29.8 percent had it been this bad. Ouch! Arizona shot 20 percent from the 3-point line. No wonder Miller said at his press conference he’d prefer his team to not shoot 3s.
Even Miller said a time or two his team had no “hope” in the game because of the offense.
“We had one of those nights shooting the ball that it didn’t really matter who we were going to play it was going to be tough on us,” Miller said on his postgame radio show. “USC did a good job. You have to give them credit. Open shots and shots at the rim and free throws. We struggled to score.”
So much so I can’t remember when was the last time I heard so many clangs of the rim in a game? There were times when it appeared no one wanted to shoot so as to not miss.
To make matters worse, Arizona was outrebounded 49-35.
Miller said he found some positives in the game: few turnovers and some varying good defense. But, …
“When you are always playing off a missed shot” it’s like playing on your heels all game. Arizona was doing exactly that. Arizona had no chance seeming from the start, getting down early and never really recovering.
Heck, Arizona might have been done even before the tip when it became apparent center Chase Jeter wasn’t going to play. It clearly didn’t help that he wasn’t playing. Arizona had no answer for USC’s big men Nick Rakocevic and Bennie Boatwright. Rakocevic had 27 points and 12 rebounds and set the tone early for the Trojans by getting to the basket as often as easily as any UA opponent all season. Boatwright had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Video: Sean Miller spoke with the media after Arizona's 23-point loss to USC tonight in Los Angeles https://t.co/PleGDHQyey
Life was difficult all night for the Cats.
“There is no easy task for anybody that plays against them,” Miller said.
Miller said there was never a time when he felt his team was in sync offensively, until late in the game. Way too late in the game.
“We didn’t have a lot of hope scoring the ball and shooting,” Miller said. “Playing without Chase we are already a team with a small margin for error. If we were full strength tonight beating USC on their court is not going to be easy.”
Miller said his team – and he’s said this often – that it’s not good enough to take “ill-advised shots.” Arizona did that plenty in the first half, fewer of those in the second half. But by then the game was all but over. Arizona was down 36-19 at the half.
Miller said maybe a blowout like what UA experienced “is the best medicine you can take” to get better.
Shortly after saying that, Miller got up and presumably went to take some more medicine to get over his cold.