Nov 20, 2012, 12:05 AM EDT
TUCSON – To say the least the 2011-12 season for the Arizona Wildcats was one that didn’t go as expected. With four highly-touted freshmen and a few solid returnees, Sean Miller’s bunch was expected to contend for a Pac-12 title.
No need to rehash what happened despite being one win away from the NCAA tournament, but one of the big problems for that group was the fact that there weren’t many available solutions if something went wrong.
Three games into the 2012-13 season, it’s safe to say that won’t be an issue for this group (knock on wood).
Taking on a Long Beach State squad with just nine available players the Wildcats jumped the 49ers early, and another run in the second half put the game away as the Wildcats won 94-72.
Brandon Ashley, inserted into the starting lineup in place of fellow freshman Grant Jerrett, scored the first nine points of the game and finished with a game-high 20 points and ten rebounds for his first double-double as a Wildcat.
In total four Wildcats reached double figures and as a team Arizona shot 53.6% from the field, with 17 of their 30 field goals being assisted.
And just one game after out-rebounding UTEP by an dominant 35-15 margin, Arizona took advantage of Long Beach State’s rebounding issues to the tune of a 41-23 margin.
To say the least it was a good night for the Wildcats.
“We did some great things tonight,” said Miller. “Offensive I believe we got the ball inside better than we have in any of our games we’ve played. That’s a work in progress and I have no doubt we’ll continue to develop and get smoother at being able to do that.”
As noted above Long Beach State was down to just nine players, and it didn’t help matters that leading scorer James Ennis sat the first five-plus minutes as punishment for being late for the team bus.
But he was on the floor when Arizona put together their first run to establish a solid working margin, as they went on an 18-3 run to take a 37-16 lead with 7:10 remaining in the half.
From that point Arizona would lead by no fewer than 11 points, extended their lead to as many as 30 in the second half.
Senior wing Solomon Hill became the program’s 47th player to reach the 1,000-point mark and finished the game with 15 points, but the fact that he shot just 2-of-8 from the field (11-of-11 FT) didn’t matter. When you can go ten deep and have players like Kevin Parrom come off the bench and knock down four three-pointers, it becomes far easier to account for one player’s off night.
While Arizona certainly had stretches of excellent play there are things to work on, most notably their three-point defense. Long Beach State knocked down 14 shots from distance, essentially keeping the game from getting really out of hand.
“Giving up 14 threes is bad. It wasn’t that they got hot; they earned it,” noted Miller. “But it’s not just Long Beach. If you look at the two exhibition games and three regular season games we’ve played, that’s a problem right now.
“And with this break that’s a big focus for us, to be able to take away the three-point shot not at the expense of the other things we’re doing well but just [to] improve that.”
Defending the three isn’t an issue along the lines of what Arizona attempted to navigate last season, and when you’ve got ten talented players at your disposal it becomes easier to find answers to some of the issues that will pop up during games.
And given the youth of some of the players in the rotation, Arizona’s bound to get better as the season wears on.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:50 AM EDT
Read through my column on Georges Niang and Iowa State.
Jul 6, 2015, 10:47 PM EDT
Four-star point guard Payton Pritchard is going to explore his options heading into the July live evaluation period.
Jul 6, 2015, 10:25 PM EDT
Northwestern continues to get good local pick-ups in the 2016 class.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT
La Salle is losing an experienced guard to transfer.
Jul 6, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT
One of Tennessee’s only options at point guard is enrolling closer to the school year.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT
One of the better shooting guards in the country is focused on 10 schools.
Jul 6, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
Michigan is going with the Jumpman under its new apparel agreement.
Jul 6, 2015, 2:48 PM EDT
Kentucky had led the nation in average attendance for eight straight years.
Jul 6, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT
The top three in this group is debatable.
Jul 6, 2015, 12:53 PM EDT
Jonathan Isaac is loaded with potential.
Jul 6, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT
The front of the jersey said Kansas before.
Jul 6, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT
Two of the nation’s best high schoolers square off.
Jul 5, 2015, 10:03 PM EDT
Thibodeaux’s decision came eight days after he began basic training.
Jul 5, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT
All of the violations were deemed to be Level III or Level IV violations, which isn’t a big deal at all.
Jul 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Plenty of college basketball players were in the FIBA U19 World Championships besides the Americans.
Jul 5, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT
The USA U19 team captured back-to-back FIBA World Championships for the first time since 1983.
Jul 5, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Mississippi State landed a commitment on Sunday from a transfer.
Jul 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Kansas (USA) is 2-0 so far at the World University Games.
Jul 5, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
Markelle Fultz is one the best guard prospects in the country.
Jul 4, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
Mathiang’s playing on an Australian team that includes the likes of Peter Hooley and Hugh Greenwood.
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