Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Wildcats played staunch defense and used a balanced offense to get back on track in a big way against the USC Trojans.
"Just like football." Only more dominant.
Steve Kerr called the game with more than 10 minutes to play in the Arizona Wildcats' game against the USC Trojans, and with a tweet sent a message to the Zona Zoo to forward it to Bob Cantu's struggling team. They heard him within minutes, but the Wildcats on the court had already sent their own message.
The Trojans had no chance, and they eventually fell 74-50 to the Wildcats in McKale Center on Saturday by shooting just 29 percent from the floor. Oddly enough, Arizona didn't have the hottest shooting night itself, hitting on only 40 percent from the floor yet using a stifling defense and selfless passing to turn in 25 made field goals on 14 assists.
Nick Johnson led four Wildcats in double-figures with 14 points in his third outing of coming out of the gates aggressively. He helped UA build a 11-2 lead and hold USC to 2-of-19 shooting to start the game en route to a 39-20 halftime lead. He got help from Solomon Hill's all-around game of 13 points, four assists and five rebounds.
Meanwhile, USC was stagnant on offense, their own fault but also a result of a good defensive effort by the Wildcats. No USC player reached double-figures.
A jumper by Johnson with 10 minutes to play in the game gave Arizona its biggest lead, 58-27, and the Trojans scored 18 points in the final eight minutes, after the Wildcats had already pulled their key players in favor of, most impressively, Gabe York.
The freshman guard, who has found little wiggle room buried behind Mark Lyons, Jordin Mayes and Johnson, scored seven points on 2-for-5 field goal shooting coming all from beyond the three-point arc. He added another point from the foul stripe.
And after Arizona's already impressive performance from the first half continue into the second, the final eight minutes or so was perhaps more interesting that anything. An opportunity for Arizona's two players struggling the most this season -- Mayes and Angelo Chol -- wasn't capitalized upon to a great degree. Mayes went 0-of-3 from the floor and had two fouls, though his two assists were a good sign. Meanwhile, Chol picked up two fouls, recorded a block and grabbed two rebounds.
Overall, Arizona's problems from Thursday's loss to UCLA were washed away. Lyons' troubles didn't appear in the box score with one turnover, three assists and nine points. But he still dribbled into crowds too often and took questionable shot attempts.
The Wildcast asserted themselves in the paint with strong games from Ashley and Tarczewski, then getting five boards from Grant Jerrett.
On the downside, the free throw shooting didn't go well. Arizona hit 63 percent, going 17-of-27. The bench scoring could be a concern as well. Jerrett's rebounding and a well filled out box score by Kevin Parrom (six points, three assists and four rebounds) didn't pose a problem against a USC team that couldn't score.
But in the end, the Wildcats got any bad taste from Thursday out of their mouths.
IHey U of A students at mckale right now- don't forget to start the 'just like football' chant. We don't get to use that one often vs SC!— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerrTNT) January 27, 2013