Arizona Basketball

Poor-shooting UA (again) can’t keep up with USC

It got ugly early for the University of Arizona … then came the tip-off.

Arizona didn’t have starter Josh Green available, who was said to be out with back issues. And, reserve guard Max Hazzard was out for “personal reasons.”

After getting a 9-2 lead, Arizona unraveled like a bad ID Channel mystery. Whodunit?

Nobody, when it comes to Arizona given the outcome in Arizona’s 57-48 loss to the host USC Trojans in Los Angeles.

Arizona was listless and lifeless in a game that seemed like no one wanted to be in the Galen Center. It was uninspiring basketball, clearly a performance that set basketball back a few years. Arizona scored 48 points. Say that three times consecutively.

It clearly sent Arizona back into the depths of the Pac-12 regular season standings at 9-6 overall. It’s now 19-9 and looking at a possible Wednesday game in the Pac-12 Tournament in a couple of weeks.

Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji shows emotion in a seemingly emotionless game for UA. (Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics.)

Yikes!

Who would have thought that just a few months ago – like November when things were humming along. There’s no hum now.

“Playing without Josh and Max (means) we’re down to just a couple of guards,” Arizona coach Sean Miler said on his postgame radio show. “I thought we wore down as the game went on. The guards that played played their hearts out. We had another historic night shooting the ball.”

And not in a good, historic way.

Just when you think it couldn’t get worse from the floor, well, there’s another game. Last week, free throws were the problem. Thursday night, it was poor shooting – AGAIN.

            Arizona had one more field goal than turnovers (16-15) and looked at its worst all season. There were bad decisions on shot selection and ball control. Arizona shot 28.1 percent, including just 11.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line (3-26).

            “We took a couple of tough ones,” Miller said. “I thought we took a couple of ill-advised shots instead of getting the ball in (to the big men).”

That’s just the beginning of the problems. Ugly doesn’t begin to describe how Arizona looked or performed – short-handed or not.

Yes, Green adds another scorer and an athletic body against an athletic team, and the depth is affected, but Arizona didn’t have any enthusiasm or energy on Thursday. They played as though they hadn’t recovered from last week’s stunning loss to Oregon. That was very apparent early in the first half.

Still, Miller was a bit optimistic in as much as he felt his defense did give his team a chance for 25 to 30 minutes of the 40-minute game, but “we just didn’t have any offense.”

Miller said they missed Hazzard in as much as he’s “our best shooter or one of them.”

“That’s the way it works during college basketball season,” Miller said.

And right now, Arizona could continue to be a mystery or find a way to get it corrected. Next up, surging UCLA in Pauley Pavilion. Oh, by the way UCLA has now won 10 of its last 12 games and is now tied for first in the conference. How the fortunes have turned in just a few months.

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