Love … wasn’t enough.
Long distance Love surely wasn’t enough on Saturday afternoon in Pullman, Washington.
Despite Caleb Love scoring 28 points and almost willing No. 8 to a victory, Washington State took control late to win 73-70.
Arizona hadn’t lost to WSU in Pullman since 2010. The loss put Arizona in a category that was trending all week – a top 10 team loses this week.
At least it was consistent with that in part because it’s been inconsistent with offense and defense in the last month. And it’s relied too much on senior guard Caleb Love who has kept them in games that eventually turned into losses.
This is No. 4 since mid-December and second in Pac-12 play. Arizona is now 4-4 away from home.
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd called his team “average” on his postgame radio show.
“What I’m seeing right now is a pretty average basketball team,” he said. “We have some upside and we’ve played above average at times, but we got to be a team that can do it on a nightly basis.”
Saturday was not that night or day.
It scored 23 points shy of its nation’s-leading 93 points. It shot a season-low 35 percent.
Only Oumar Ballo and Love scored in double figures, with Ballo adding 11. He did, however, miss a number of seeming makeable baskets around the rim.
And, he continues to be a liability at the free throw line given his misses. He was 3 for 7 from the line.
Remember that every UA starter is averaging in double figures scoring. Washington State made Arizona look, well, average.
The Cougars definitely limited Arizona, except for Love, who kept Arizona in the game.
Still, Kylan Boswell played perhaps his worst game as a Wildcat. He had no points (O for 5), missed two free throws, had no assists and had no rebounds. And he had a turnover.
Lloyd made no mention of Love or Boswell on the radio show (he wasn’t asked).
But if Arizona is to make any impact in the post season, it can’t have starters Boswell, Pelle Larsson, Ballo and Keshad Johnson not being productive.
Simple analysis, right?
The bench proved worthy, but that too wasn’t enough. Still, it’s on the starters to produce, not matter how well the home team plays defense or runs its offense.
Although it was very apparent Arizona couldn’t handle WSU’s zone, which created problems from the start.
“We prepared for it but I have to do a better job of making our guys comfortable in game situations … it’s the most we’ve seen it all year and I’m sure we’ll see it more,” Lloyd said.
Of course they will.
“We have to be up for the challenge,” he said.
Lloyd said his team looked uncomfortable all game.
“We were not in rhythm all day,” he said. “We have to get a few more guys more comfortable playing against it.”
Offensively, Arizona had just 14 assists and had 22 offensive rebounds but could only muster 12 points from it.
“I told our guys that if they want to win games in the NCAA tournament don’t expect to get any foul calls – you got to finish,” he said. “Arizona has to finish points in the paint. That’s what we’ve built to do and we didn’t do it.”