NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Jesse Perry #33 of the Arizona Wildcats drives the ball against Renardo Sidney #1 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches Vs Cancer at Madison Square Garden on November 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs led from tip to final buzzer, and the Arizona Wildcats couldn't do anything about it.
Well, it didn't appear they really got to a point where they wanted to do something about it.
Call it tired legs.
Call it jetlag after flying across the country, to Madison Square Garden.
We all waited for their patented, late second-half run, but this time the Wildcats couldn't deliver.
Winning 67-57 on Friday, the Bulldogs dominated UA in the paint, and used a offensively-deficient final 10 minutes from the Wildcats to their advantage.
Arizona got within one three times and tied the game once, and it wasn't apparent the Wildcats were out of it completely until less than two minutes remained in the game.
The Wildcats didn't have it Friday.
However, it's not the biggest loss in the world. Sean Miller's ball club needed to get their first loss out of the way before a tumultuous upcoming schedule that includes Clemson and ranked teams in the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Florida Gators.
Forward Kevin Parrom hit a 3-pointer with 10:01 remaining to bring the Wildcats to a 52-48 deficit, but from then on, Arizona would score only seven points in the final 10 minutes.
The biggest problem for Arizona?
Bulldog forward Arnett Moultrie, who went 8-for-10 from the field to score 19 points. He grabbed 10 rebounds as he abused UA's undersized interior defense. And he got help from guard Dee Bost, who scooted through the Wildcats defense to score eight points and dish out six assists.
As it turned out, however, the Wildcats still hadn't found a go-to guy.
Whether it happens this season is starting to look questionable at best.
Sure, players can step up in crunch time. It's not hat the roster doesn't have a number of options to do so. But what the roster doesn't have is the guy to step up when no one's on.
Take Kyle Fogg for example. While he'll hit the big shot, he's not one to call for the ball when things aren't going right. He struggled with 3-of-8 shooting on Friday, and it was that which probably led him to disappear down the stretch.
As the minutes dwindled so did the Arizona basketball players' decision-making, it appeared.
"Who wants to take over?" their faces read. None appeared to even think, "Maybe I should."
And that was that.
Overall, the weekend was a perfect reminder that this team is talented but far from a finished product. At the same time, you could think backward, to this point in last season, and realize that an Elite Eight squad looked similarly bad -- at times -- as this year's team.