Arizona Basketball

Where does Sean Miller & his Cats go from here?

Let’s put this in perspective: Since 1985, Arizona has lost to the Oregon State Beaver just 10 times, with No. 10 coming Sunday night 82-65 in Corvallis, Oregon. It had won seven straight and 14 of the last 15 games vs. the Beavers.

Losses are that rare. Every loss has been as surprising as the last one, but Sunday’s loss was perplexing in part because UA looked so mediocre in its effort and effectiveness. It was UA’s worst loss since 1989 when it fell 84-61 in Corvallis.

Arizona (11-5 overall and 1-2 in the Pac-12) was swept on the Oregon Trail for the first time since 2006, a first for Sean Miller as the UA coach.

Zeke Nnaji scores two of his 21 points for Arizona in Corvallis. UA lost 82-65. (Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics)

The Beavers, behind its zone and changing defenses, turned Arizona into a one-shot down-the-floor team in the second half. And Arizona couldn’t hit shots. This from a team that just two months ago was thought to be perhaps the best shooting team in Sean Miller’s 11 seasons at UA. Well, for get that. No one is hitting shots and it clearly didn’t Sunday night. UA was 5 for 17 from beyond the 3-point line.

What Sunday’s loss did was leave a good performance on Thursday – yes, still a loss – against the Oregon Ducks on the cutting-room floor. Sunday’s tape might not ever be seen again or could be used to show what not to do.

After losing five of the last seven games that’s what this has come to, a team that must re-find itself, particularly when Miller says Oregon State “outclassed us.”

“We really struggled across the board,” Miller said in his postgame radio show.

Arizona was outrebounded (31-28), out shot, out played, and well, out everything’d (go with me on that word). Who was the 18th-ranked team? Arizona will likely be out of the top 25 by Monday afternoon (for whatever that’s worth).

Arizona had no answer for the Beavers (when was the last time I typed that?) Arizona had no answer for the Beaver law firm of Tinkle, Hollins & Thompson. Clearly, Arizona’s much depended-on freshmen of Mannion, Green & Nnaji were no match. Heck, nothing worked for Arizona, especially in the second half when the Beavers outscored UA 51-34. That never happens.

Add that OSU went 20-22 from the free throw line, went 8 for 18 beyond the 3-point line and shot 65 percent from the floor in the second half.

“No matter what they ran in the second half, we were not able to match up,” Miller said.

Arizona was outscored 33-16 in the final 13 minutes of the game. Things really unraveled late in the game and “by then the game was over,” Miller admitted.

 “They were the far superior team,” Miller said. “We had so many individuals who were unable to defend them.”

Miller said he wasn’t pleased with the team’s first four minutes of the game and the final 14. He couldn’t have been too pleased with the other 24 minutes, either, given Arizona had very few leads and no one outside of Nnaji was impressive.

“Our concentration and fight …,” Miller said, before stating numbers. “Their ability to score the ball and great shots wore us out.”

Where Arizona goes from here is anyone’s guess. It’s clearly at a crossroads given the circumstances of the weekend and the results of the last few games.

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