Realistically though, Arizona’s offense had plenty of opportunities to score and could not capitalize. Arizona forced 11 turnovers, but never seemed to make it count on the offensive end of the floor. Granted, the Wildcats could not make it count for a majority of the game, save for the 10-0 run in the second half.
The team, minus guard Nick Johnson and forward Solomon Hill, did not show up and it was another game of stagnant basketball where the majority of the shots came via one-on-one moves. UA only had 10 assists on 28 made buckets. UCLA on the other hand enjoyed playing team ball with assists on 18 of 32 field goals.
Because we’ve had some bad, now let’s go to what was good in this game. There was not much, but I’m willing to give it its due.
Nick Johnson: He finally busted out of his Pac-12 slump and played one of his best games in red and blue. He led the team with 23 points on 9-19 shooting, made all four of his free throws, and had five rebounds. Johnson had two dunks, which in the larger scheme of things, kept the game from getting out of hand as they woke the crowd up and helped give the team momentum.
Solomon Hill: A double-double with 50% shooting and 13 points is a pretty good game for any college kid, so I’m not going to dock Hill anything. He played 37 minutes and spent a good deal of that guarding one of the best players in the conference, Shabazz Muhammad. His 10 rebounds were quite impressive for a small forward.
Brandon Ashley: Nine points and eight rebounds in his first game of this rivalry isn’t too shabby for the freshman. He came to play with a nice dunk and solid enough defense.
The Crowd: White. White. White. The fans, 14,617 strong, came to play, packing McKale with all white and trying to the best of their best ability to make the team play better. UCLA legend and ESPN announcer Bill Walton even noticed the crowd.
RT @dalamedakold: Walton: “When was the last time this crowd sat down? Don’t they ever get tired here?”
— Alec Sills-Trausch (@UofAlec) January 25, 2013
And now we’re done with that. Here comes the bad. Sit back because we are going to be here for some time.
Offense: I touched on this a tad above, but the offense is jaw-dropping when it is in the half court. Like jaw dropping bad. When the team gets out and runs, the athletes and shooters show up and great things happen. However, when the game slows down, UA has enormous trouble getting quality open shots. I will say this, Arizona got to the rim a lot tonight, but couldn’t get the shots to fall.
Mark Lyons: Pretty much his worst game of his Arizona career. Yes, he might have scored 16 points, but he is the point guard and he didn’t do that too well. Lyons fouled out, had five turnovers, missed 11 shots, and if it could get any worse, had ZERO assists. Maybe we need to pull the plug on the point guard label.
Kaleb Tarczewski: Yes, yes, I understand the learning curve for college big men is much longer than for guards, but that does not mean the seven-footer has to be non-existent. Tarczewski took two shots, missed them both, and played only 15 minutes total. He was also taken out just 50 seconds into the second half and didn’t play much after that. Even more disappointing, he only had one rebound in his time on the court.
Shooting: The Wildcats shot only 38.4%, missing 45 of their 73 shots. From three point range, it only went down hill. Arizona shot a miserable 5 for 24 and many of them were wide open. Do we need to say any more?
Rotation/Depth: Sean Miller has narrowed this rotation down to only eight and it doesn’t seem to be working. For how bad the team was playing, I would have loved to see Angelo Chol and Gabe York inserted, just to see if they could spark something. Chol might be the most athletic big man on the team and would have been better on defense with switches and rotating to protect the rim. York, even though his defense has criticized, wouldn’t have been any worse than Jordin Mayes and his athleticism/shooting could have helped out. I think it’s time to give York some playing time over Mayes (0-3FG, 0 points).
Luckily, Arizona will only play UCLA a max total of two more times and I hope it will only be one.
Next up is USC, which is on the rise since firing ex UA coach Kevin O’Neill, but the Trojans should not pose anywhere near as much trouble as UCLA did. Expect a good game, but the Wildcats should win by double digits.
Tell me what you think the Arizona Wildcats need to improve on in the comments section or tweet me @UofAlec.