Arizona found themselves down 3-1 early, then 8 minutes into the game down 21-5. The fans at McKale were shocked, every shot the Bruins took went in and every shot the Cats took rimmed in and out. Couldn’t buy a break until midway through the first period when the Cats were able to find some easy buckets and convert on their free throws. Eventually they were able to cut the lead to ten going into halftime.
Wildcat fans had high hopes for the second half, knowing our cats are a second half team, but again the Cats could not get anything going offensively. Jordin Mayes looked like he was at a walk through practice with how lazy he looked. Mark Lyons kept getting anxious trying to push the ball up the floor and ended up throwing it away for a total of 5 turnovers and wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well either (32% FG and 28% from three). After a stellar first half for Brandon Ashley ( 7 points 6 reb) he disappeared in the second half only scoring 2 points and pulling down 2 rebounds. Arizona’s defense or lack there of played a huge role in Thursday’s loss. The Cats came out thinking they could win the game by running with the Bruins and that was simply not the case. If the Cats want to win Saturday they better learn how to play tough defense, quick. Arizona was lead by Nick Johnson (20 points, 5 rebounds), Solomon Hill’s double-double (12 points, 13 rebounds), and Mark Lyons, with 16 points.
Meanwhile, the Bruins had a coming out party for their freshman. All three starting freshman contributed huge to the Bruins victory. Led by Shabazz Muhammad, who torched the Cats every time he touched the ball. He wasn’t forced to his right once (he’s left-handed) and the Cats paid the price. He had 23 points on 50% shooting and he also grabbed three boards. Kyle Anderson led all players with 12 rebounds and added 8 points to his stat sheet. These two were the Bruins highly touted freshman coming into this year and it showed why Thursday night. The other freshman on the Bruins team is Jordan Adams, who started the season out hot, but since went on a cold streak. Well, I think it’s safe to say he’s back on a hot streak again. He also shot the ball well, going for 15 points on 50% shooting from the field. The Wear twins did their usual damage, although the starter (Travis) did not play in the second half due to a concussion. Overall, what impressed me the most about the Bruins, was their defense. They all played great man-to-man defense and played hard and strong, creating a total of 14 turnovers. They created tough shots for the Wildcats and I credit them for that.
The Wildcats, on the other hand played terrible defense and missed out on an opportunity to crack the top five as Duke and Louisville lost earlier this week. Let’s hope the Cats can bounce back Saturday and pounce the USC trojans. Beardown!