The Arizona Wildcats lost 69-65 to the Providence Friars in Fullerton, California on Friday night in the second round of the Wooden Legacy Tournament. The 'Cats led 58-51 with 6:32 left in the game, but a late Providence run led by Kris Dunn proved to be the difference. It's the first loss of the season for Arizona.
Here were the main takeaways from the game:
Amazing Anderson: Ryan Anderson was by far the best Wildcat in this game. He was dominating the boards and scoring inside at will. He finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, and it seemed like every time Arizona needed a big play, he was there to deliver. Unfortunately for Arizona, he didn't get much help from others as Gabe York was the only other Wildcat that scored in double figures.
Too Many Turnovers: In the first half, Arizona shot over 55% from the field, yet found themselves up by just one. Why? They had 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes alone. Then in the second half, they had nine. And some of them were just careless plays. Kadeem Allen dribbled the ball off of his foot, Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen had an untimely miscommunication late in the second half, and Allonzo Trier -- well frankly I'm not sure what he was doing all game. He had four turnovers in limited minutes.
As a whole, the team's guards have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allen, and Trier combined for 11 turnovers and just seven assists. In the past, Arizona's defense could withstand a turnover-prone offense, but that's not the case this season.
Missing Zeus: Kaleb Tarczewski missed the game with an ankle injury and he was sorely missed. While Dusan Ristic wasn't bad -- he had six points and five rebounds -- he was in foul trouble all game. That left Arizona to go with a small frontline of Anderson and Tollefsen for much of the game, and defensively it wasn't very effective. The Friars shot 50% from the field.
York Struggles Again: I'm getting tired of Gabe York's shot selection. He went 3-15 from the field last game and went 4-12 against Providence. To his credit, he did hit some timely shots -- such as three with 6:31 left in the game that put Arizona up 58-51 -- but for the most part, couldn't find his shot. He also made a critical mistake when he helped on a post up (for no good reason) one pass away and it led to a Providence three, which cut Arizona's lead to 58-54 and ultimately spurred the Friars' late rally.
Pitiful Pitts: Elliott Pitts played 28 minutes and was basically invisible out there. He didn't score and had two rebounds, an assist, and a steal. I don't mind him playing in short spurts as he has in the past, but he's quickly becoming a fish out of water when getting major minutes. Of course with the injuries and Trier playing poorly, Miller was basically forced to play Pitts that many minutes, but I wish he'd give Justin Simon a chance.
Got It Dunn: Even though Kris Dunn was battling foul trouble all game, he still managed to scored 17 points and drop eight assists. He and Ryan Anderson were the most impactful players in the game, but it was Kris that got it Dunn (pun intended) down the stretch. He scored 10 points in the final three minutes of the game, and Arizona's lack of a lockdown defender became quite clear once again.
We were anticipating the Wildcats getting a crack at the Michigan State Spartans, but the loss means that they'll be facing the Boise State Broncos for the second time this season Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats beat them 88-76 in McKale Center a few weeks ago, but the Broncos did keep it close for the majority of the game. With Kaleb Tarczewski likely out again, it's going to take all hands on deck for Arizona to avoid its second straight loss.