Technically speaking, Arizona had a chance – again. But didn’t finish – again.
But didn’t finish has become the all-too-often catchphrase for the Arizona Wildcats.
It might be the theme of the 2019-20 season depending on what happens the rest of the regular season, the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona will have more chances to get things right … but time is running out. It’s often said the best thing about February is that March is just around the corner.
Well, sound the alarms. We’re here and, seemingly, Arizona still isn’t ready.
On yet another night Arizona had a good chance to win it couldn’t pull it off, losing to UCLA 69-64 in Pauley Pavilion.
For 38 minutes – 12 ½ without head coach Sean Miller – Arizona played even or better than UCLA, the hottest team in the conference.
But like it’s done several times before – wait for it, wait for it – the collapse came. Missed shots and three horrible turnovers. Then came the final two minutes where UCLA outscored UA 12-4.
And, like Nico Mannion said, you can’t score if you’re turning the ball over.
So, just like that, Arizona(19-10 overall, 9-7 in the Pac-12) fell to UCLA and is now trending in the wrong way as the calendar turns to March and the madness.
Heck, for Arizona the madness started at the midseason mark when it saw itself fail to close out games:
Oregon x 2.
And, now UCLA.
“Unfortunately, for the second consecutive game we didn’t take care of the ball,” UA associate head coach Jack Murphy said on the team’ post-game radio show, “especially when it mattered most.”
Murphy said the team played “so hard” and competed. And yes, they did, but it continues to be plagued by poor-decision and poor-shooting-itis. It became contagious again. Three missed 3s and three turnovers in the final minutes.
And, well, defeat doesn’t get any easier to explain.
Shoutout to the guy who ran down to wave goodbye to Sean Miller pic.twitter.com/BsBzFFinqR
“We were in a great position to win the ball game,” Murphy said, speaking of UA leading throughout the second half and when Miller was ejected.
Arizona still looked comfortable – I hesitate to write that – with a four-point lead with two minutes left.
“We just couldn’t finish the game,” Murphy said on the radio show.
He said he apologized to Miller after the game – and to himself being an Arizona alumnus – that he couldn’t coach the win.
“You’re up four with two minutes to go you should bring that home,” Murphy said.
Same song different verse.
And, well, another one bit the dust.
But they must all feel the same, after all, it’s the same late-game wound.
Arizona led the game for about 35 minutes in what was yet another poor-shooting night. But UCLA shot poorly too.
“Usually when we do that in Pauley Pavilion,” Murphy told reporters in LA, “we walk out with a win.”
These are not usual times. Arizona has now lost three consecutive games and has fans wondering if they will even make the NCAA Tournament in a couple of weeks. Arizona is in. At what seed is anyone’s guess.
Murphy said UA is close to putting it all together. Then again, what else would he say?
“I think we are really close,” Murphy said. “Look at the progress we made from Thursday (a loss to USC) to tonight. If we play the way we did tonight on Thursday we probably walk out of the Galen Center with a win. The guys competed and showed effort.”
Yet, it wasn’t enough … again. There were too many mistakes … again.