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Arizona vs. Oregon State: Wildcats get back to basics

The Arizona Wildcats finally lost, and against the Oregon State Beavers they no longer carry the weight of being one of the three unbeatens.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 6 p.m. MST


Maybe the Arizona Wildcats' loss to the Oregon Ducks on Thursday alleviated a building pressure.

At 14-0 and with the questions about their ability to keep things afloat mounting, Sean Miller's team looked like they were playing not to lose more than playing to win. Solomon Hill told Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star as much following the loss in Eugene, Ore.

"I feel like we weren't undefeated to begin with," Hill said. "I feel like we had a couple losses. That's how the world looked at us, and that's how the media looked at us. So it's good to finally get the media monkey off our back. Now we have a chance to just focus back on Pac-12 play."

So against the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday, all they'll look to do is get back to the basics. Craig Robinson's team started the Pac-12 season off 0-2 with losses to Oregon and Arizona State, and they'll be desperate to attack a Wildcat team they know very well. Though they've lost five straight to Arizona, there are remnants of distaste between the Wildcats and Beavers.

There always seems to be a skirmish or two.

The Wildcats will again face a zone defense that will test a broken-looking offense. Oregon State's zone that slides a speedy guard in the back ranks in the NCAA's top-15 in steals per game with 9.8 per game.

Miller, however, knows that it's his team's defense that's been an issue of late. Mostly, that defense has only shown up in the final four or five minutes of the last four games.

Now, it'll be interesting to see how the Wildcats respond to their first loss. They'll hope that it allowed them to, as Hill said, get the monkey off their backs. It's time for Arizona to think about basketball -- not records -- once again.

The matchup

The Wildcats face a more experienced OSU team this year, but it's one that resembles the squad they knocked out of the Pac-12 tournament last season.

Skilled big man Joe Burton, who leads the team with 3.1 assists per game, is in the middle flanked by athletic, rangy forwards in Devon Collier (14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Eric Moreland, who comes off the bench.

Junior guard Roberto Nelson starts at shooting guard and leads the Beavs with 15.5 points per game. He and speedy point guard Ahmad Starks shoot above 43 percent from three-point range.

Arizona has an advantage in the wings. Oregon State got burned in their last game by versatile Sun Devil forward Carrick Felix, who scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Beavers, and that makes it a priority for Hill and Kevin Parrom to attack off the dribble.