Arizona Basketball

Arizona’s loss to UCLA not an upset; Wildcats must bring back fun to avoid future setbacks

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G: Games played. S: Number of starts.
BP: Bench points. A player gets three points if he is first off the bench, two if second and one if third. Shows Sean Miller’s rotation.
UCLA: Productivity points against UCLA
UMIN: Minutes played against UCLA
PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
TMIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)
NOTE: Player must average at least 10 minutes a game to be listed in primary rotation

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Sean Miller must bring some fun back to his players

Sean Miller must bring some fun back to his players’s game story of UCLA’s 74-69 win over Arizona on Saturday night reads: “UCLA surprises No. 11 Arizona”


No surprise here. UCLA was the odds-on favorite to win. Nobody on ESPN College GameDay’s crew gave the Wildcats a chance in the two-hour program earlier in the day. Although Arizona fought its way back — reminiscent of its ability to come back from deficits against Florida and Colorado in the first half of the season — the Wildcats came up short (as was expected by most) against the Bruins.

It was up to the Wildcats to turn the tide of doubt and finally beat one of the Pac-12’s elite — Oregon, UCLA and Cal. The Wildcats’ record now against the conference’s top three teams is 0-4 with two of the losses at McKale Center.

Arizona was playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament a month ago. Now the Wildcats, 3-4 in their last seven games, are in need of a victory over ASU next Saturday to clinch the No. 4 spot in the conference and avoid having to play on the first day of the Pac-12 tournament.

Arizona is unable to capture the regular-season Pac-12 title. That’s now between Oregon, UCLA and Cal. The Bruins’ freshman-laden roster has jelled together down the stretch, while Arizona has struggled to find its rhythm from when it started 12-0.

“UCLA, they have a lot of good things going for them,” Arizona coach Sean Miller told reporters after the game. “If they win the conference, my vote for the conference player of the year is Larry Drew (II). And I don’t really think it’s close.”

Drew won the battle of the transfer point guards. Drew, with one year of eligibility after playing at North Carolina, finished with 20 productivity points in 38 minutes (for productivity points definition, see glossary). Lyons, playing for the UA for only one year after transferring from Xavier, finished with eight productivity points in 31 minutes.

Grant Jerrett had one of his best games as a Wildcat against UCLA

Grant Jerrett had one of his best games as a Wildcat against UCLA

In UCLA’s season sweep over the Wildcats, Drew tallied 36 productivity points in 73 minutes compared to Lyons’ 12 productivity points in 64 minutes.

Beyond any statistic is Drew’s leadership qualities, a sage veteran directing ball movement with three quality freshman starters (Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams).

At least Arizona’s bench players Grant Jerrett and Jordin Mayes provided an answer for UCLA reserve David Wear, who posted 24 productivity points in 31 minutes including 10 points, nine rebounds and two three-pointers in the second half.

Jerrett led the Wildcats with 25 points in 24 minutes returning close to his hometown of Chino Hills, Calif. Mayes, who is from Los Angeles, awoke from a season-long slumber and showed flashes of how he played during the UA’s Elite Eight season of 2010-11. He finished with eight productivity points in 13 minutes (eight points and two assists).

“I thought we played well as a team and much better than the SC game (lost by Arizona 89-78 on Wednesday),” Jerrett told reporters. “(Miller) said we played much better with more heart and more focus.”

It’s inviting and easy to second-guess Miller, berate efforts by players and question the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament worth with how they have played over the last four weeks. From my experience covering Arizona’s basketball team when Lute Olson coached, the Wildcats struggled in March when Olson and his players were uptight and not appearing to have fun in what should be the funnest time of the year.

During Arizona’s NCAA tournament run in 1997 when the Wildcats ran the table despite finishing 19-9 in the regular season, Olson was Olson Light, loose with his team without the suffocating pressure. Miller’s comments after Arizona’s loss to UCLA suggest he is trying to loosen the knot over what many fans and observers think of Arizona’s program now that the Wildcats have encountered adversity.

“It would be difficult for any team to come in here today and win,” Miller told reporters. “We battled back in the second half and to see Grant Jerrett do what he did as a freshman gives me a lot of hope here down the home stretch.”

Strange that the word “hope” was used with a team that seemed to have lost all hope when UCLA threatened to rout the Wildcats, ahead 57-44 with 13:36 remaining.

Saturday’s game is a lot more than for bragging rights against arch-rival ASU. The Wildcats will honor seniors Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom, who have weathered the challenges of Miller re-establishing the program. Lyons will also play his last game at McKale Center, a final chance to showcase why it was a good idea that he transferred to Arizona to conclude his collegiate career.

Fun must restored back to Arizona’s program. The Wildcats have an opportunity Saturday for that at McKale Center against ASU.


Despite missing a dunk that caused a five-point turnaround (UCLA hit a three-pointer at the other end) in the second half, freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski was solid on the boards with a team-high 10 rebounds. Jerrett was next with five. Hill and Parrom had only four each. Arizona won the battle of the boards 34-29 but UCLA managed to get some key putbacks in the second half.

Defensive Rebounding Percentage (DRB%): Determined by dividing Arizona’s defensive rebounds (25 against UCLA) by the opposition’s offensive rebounds (UCLA had eight) added to Arizona’s defensive rebounds (25) — 25/(8 + 25) = 75.8 percent.

Offensive Rebounding Percentage (ORB%): Determined by taking Arizona’s offensive rebound total (nine) divided by that total (nine) and the defensive rebounds of the opponent (21 for UCLA) — 9/(9 + 21) = 30.0 percent.

Ideal marks are 72 percent DRB% and 38 percent ORB%.

NEXT UP: ASU at Arizona, March 9
UCLA 74, Arizona 69
— Grant Jerrett 25 PP/24 MIN
USC 89, Arizona 78
— Solomon Hill 31 PP/38 MIN
Arizona 73, Washington State 56
— Kevin Parrom 32 PP/33 MIN
Arizona 70, Washington 52
— Solomon Hill 29 PP/33 MIN
Arizona 68, Utah 64
— Brandon Ashley 18 PP/22 MIN
Colorado 71, Arizona 58
— Angelo Chol 14 PP/20 MIN
California 77, Arizona 69
— Brandon Ashley 21 PP/29 MIN
Arizona 73, Stanford 66
— Mark Lyons 41 PP/36 MIN
Arizona 79, Washington State 65
— Mark Lyons 22 PP/23 MIN
Arizona 57, Washington 53
— Nick Johnson 26 PP/34 MIN
Arizona 74, USC 50
— Solomon Hill 22 PP/24 MIN
UCLA 84, Arizona 73
— Nick Johnson 29 PP/33 MIN
Arizona 71, Arizona State 54
— Mark Lyons 34 PP/31 MIN
Arizona 80, Oregon State 70
— Brandon Ashley 19 PP/22 MIN
Oregon 70, Arizona 66
— Mark Lyons 24 PP/37 MIN
Arizona 60, Utah 57
— Solomon Hill 29 PP/35 MIN
Arizona 92, Colorado 83 (OT)
— Kevin Parrom 28 PP/34 MIN
Arizona 68, San Diego State 67
— Kevin Parrom 28 PP/26 MIN
Arizona 69, Miami 50
— Kevin Parrom 21 PP/21 MIN
Arizona 73, East Tennessee State 53
— Brandon Ashley 27 PP/22 MIN
Arizona 89, Oral Roberts 64
— Grant Jerrett 24 PP/21 MIN
Arizona 65, Florida 64
— Solomon Hill 31 PP/37 MIN
Arizona 66, Clemson 54
— Mark Lyons 30 PP/33 MIN
Arizona 63, Southern Mississippi 55
— Kevin Parrom 19 PP/30 MIN
Arizona 85, Texas Tech 57
— Solomon Hill 26 PP/26 MIN
Arizona 93, NAU 50
— Nick Johnson 27 PP/22 MIN
Arizona 94, Long Beach State 72
— Brandon Ashley 40 PP/24 MIN
Arizona 72, UTEP 51
— Mark Lyons 21 PP/25 MIN
Arizona 82, Charleston Southern 73
— Brandon Ashley 26 PP/24 MIN

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Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner


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