It wasn’t pretty — especially at the beginning — but Arizona ended up imposing its will on Cal in a way that, well, we’ve seen a lot before to be honest.
So what was really good and what wasn’t?
1. Tossing Treys
Why did Arizona win this game by 21 points? How about shooting 11-of-19 from 3-point range? Yeah, that’ll do it especially when Cal was just 1-of-13 from long range.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dylan Smith each drilled four 3s, and both ended up with 14 points. Allonzo Trier added two long balls of his own, and Emmanuel Akot (!) got his only points with a Berkeley Bomb.
After shooting just 33.3% in conference play from 3 before this game, maybe a shooting performance like this will catapult Arizona into a hot streak on this front.
2. Damn, Dylan
Alkins missed this game with soreness in the foot that he broke before the season started, which had Sean Miller rounding out the starting five with Smith.
Smith took advantage.
The transfer was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field (4-for-4 from 3), tied for third on the team with 14 points, and also tacked on four rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes. I’d also say his defense was a factor in this one as well.
It’s been painfully obvious that Arizona is going to need some more contributions from its bench, and maybe a game like this will give Smith the confidence he needs to be that crucial sixth man as we inch closer to March.
3. Ay Ton of Rebounds
Arizona outrebounded Cal 36-22. Deandre Ayton had 11 of these boards. When this team and this dude runs into a Pac-12 team that has no answer inside, there’s no way for those teams to come close.
Cal missed 33 shots compared to Arizona’s 19, yet the Wildcats had 11 offensive boards. The Bears had ten offensive rebounds. That’s nuts.
1. Trippin’ on Turnovers
You’re not going to believe this either, but Arizona had the most turnovers it’s had in a single game this year.
The Wildcats gave the ball away 21 times in this one. The previous high this year was 20 against SMU, a game that Arizona lost by six.
Arizona’s ball control at the beginning of this game was abysmal at best. Through the first 8+ minutes, there were already seven turnovers on the board. The team was struggling trying to get the ball through Cal’s zone.
Despite the turnovers, Arizona’s efficiency was ridiculous when it actually kept the ball:
Arizona is averaging 1.81 points per possession on the 36 trips it has not turned the ball over. pic.twitter.com/kNFl049NQj— danny martinez (@DannyNMartinez) January 18, 2018
So yeah, if there had been even average ball control, this game would have been a blowout of epic proportions.
2. Dwindling depth
Even with Alkins out and Smith entering the starting lineup, you can’t help to wonder what’s going on with the once-thought talented bench Arizona possesses.
All five starters played at least 26 minutes in a game that was a blowout for a good chunk of the second half. And no bench player scored more than three points despite Brandon Randolph getting 16 minutes, Akot getting 15 minutes, Keanu Pinder playing 11 minutes, and Ira Lee seeing the floor for nine minutes.
This is the thing that always happens with Miller teams, but in games like this you have to get more from the bench. It’s going to be a problem when Arizona runs up against the top programs in March. There’s no getting around that. Outside of Smith, who’s going to step up when this team needs it?
3. Bare stands
I know it’s a Wednesday and Cal stinks and the Pac-12 is not good as a whole, but the amount of empty seats is concerning for anyone, and there’s just no buzz around basketball in this conference anymore.
My brother is at the Arizona game tonight, and it’s safe to say it isn’t a sellout pic.twitter.com/AKrYvHqwdH— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) January 18, 2018