Arizona Basketball: Wildcats survive and Sean Miller gets career win No.400

Arizona Basketball has now won three games in a row in the Pac-12 as they defeat the USC Trojans at home 85-80, giving head Coach Sean Miller career win No.400!

What a roller coaster of a game. Arizona Basketball started out on fire in the first half and then went ice cold late in the second half. Luckily though they built a large enough lead to hold on for a five-point win over the USC Trojans. It wasn’t pretty at the end,  but at the end of the day it’s all about getting the W and head coach Sean Miller’s 400th career win!

With this win, the Wildcats improve their record to 15-6 overall and 6-3 in Pac-12 play (four teams now have 3 losses in the conference). Heading into this game, both teams had identical records and were looking to remain at the top. The Trojans were coming off a 21 point defeat to Colorado, while the Wildcats were feeling confident after getting a big-time road sweep in Washington.

In the first half, it was all Arizona. They were out hustling the Trojans, controlling the glass, taking excellent care of the ball, forcing turnovers and taking advantage of fast breakpoints. More importantly, they were shooting the ball well as a team at 47% from the field and 4-14 from three, which contributed to a 10 point lead at half.

Josh Green, who had only scored a total of 16 points in his last three games combined, led the Wildcats with 12 points in the first half. The other player that stood out in the first half was Stone Gettings, who had six points, five rebounds and was out there getting those 50/50 balls.

Then the second half happened. Back and forth they went, neither team really getting many stops on the defensive end. The Wildcats though did end up going on a couple of mini runs to gain a 21 point lead. That didn’t stop the Trojans from cutting into that lead.

Wildcat fans have seen it before, most recently against ASU in Tempe when they would see a 22 point lead evaporate. This one had the same feeling. At the 8:20 minute mark in the second half is the last time they would make a field goal. The last 10 points of the game were all from the free-throw line, where they were struggling as well. The life of a Wildcat fan.

Nico Mannion, Dylan Smith, Nnaji were all missing from the line, keep their opponent within striking distance. The Trojans cut the lead all the way down to 3 with five seconds to go, but Mannion hit two free throws at the end to seal the game 85-80.

Poor shooting in the second half combined with tentative play almost cost the Wildcats in this one. As a team, they missed 12 from the charity stripe.

In close games like this, sometimes it comes down to who can make them from the line and who can’t. Luckily, they made just enough to come away with the win.

Four players finished in double figures with Mannion leading the way with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, and zero turnovers, Nnaji and Green had 18 and Gettings had 12. Bench only had 12 points, led by Ira Lee with 10 points.

It wasn’t how Sean Miller would have liked, but with this win, he has now won 400 wins in his coaching career.  His overall coaching record now stands at 400-142. At Arizona, he has a record of 280-95, not too shabby at all.

At Zona Zealots, we would like to congratulate Miller on his achievement and Arizona Basketball on getting the victory. Up next, UCLA at home this Saturday night. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!

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