The last time the Arizona Wildcats lost at McKale Center, they breezed to an easy win in the follow up. But that was against Montana, a much easier opponent than Saturday’s foe, the Oregon State Beavers.
Yet when the final buzzer sounded Arizona had led for all but 46 seconds in an 82-71 victory over OSU, improving to 14-5 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play.
Here’s what looked good (and what could have gone better) for Arizona on Saturday afternoon:
Arizona dominated Oregon State on the boards, outrebounding the Beavers 41-29. The Wildcats were particularly dominant on the offensive glass, grabbing 21 offensive rebounds that they converted into 28 second-chance points.
That’s nine more than Arizona had in any other game this season and the most in the Sean Miller era. And that came without Chase Jeter, the team leader in offensive boards with 40, who left the game less than five minutes in after taking a hard fall and did not return.
Rebounding has been a major issue for Arizona this season, but against Oregon State—which had outrebounded 12 of its previous 16 opponents—it was a major strength despite not having one of the team’s best glass men.
It’s hard to believe Coleman is less than three weeks removed from dislocating his left shoulder in practice just a few days before the Pac-12 opener against Colorado. Since playing only four minutes in that first game, Coleman has looked none the worse for wear and is starting to resemble the player who went off for 62 points in three games at the Maui Invitational.
Despite not scoring in the first half, and taking just two shots, Coleman finished with 14 points and was 3 of 6 from three-point range. He also had four rebounds, five assists and a career-high five steals.
How good a line is that? According to Sports-Reference.com, only three other Division I players had gone for at least 15/4/5/5 this season, and none were from a power conference.
And to add to the big day, Coleman surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career with his first make early in the second half.
“I had a little bit more to play for today,” Coleman said afterward, noting that it was his the birthday of an aunt who had recently passed away. “Today was pretty special for me because I was playing for my aunt.”
Arizona made 13 three-pointers against Oregon State, its most since draining 15 against UMBC to open the 2017-18 season. Those 13 makes came on 27 attempts, a 48.1 percent clip that was the Wildcats’ third-best of the year.
It was a group affair from the perimeter, with Coleman, Dylan Smith and Brandon Williams each hitting three while Alex Barcello and Ryan Luther had two apiece.
The Wildcats, who were 6 of 22 from deep in Thursday’s home loss to Oregon, are now shooting 34.7 percent from three. In Pac-12 play they’re making 39.7 percent of their distance shots.
Coach Sean Miller said Jeter should be back for Arizona’s next game, Thursday at UCLA, assuming the back spasms he suffered after the hard fall early on Saturday don’t persist or lead to something else. And despite how well the Wildcats played without him, he is the last player they can afford to lose.
Remember, Arizona is already down one player in the frontcourt after sophomore Emmanuel Akot abruptly quit the team last weekend. That left it with just three in the rotation, then after Jeter got hurt only Luther and Ira Lee were left.
That forced Miller to play 6-foot-6 junior Jake DesJardins, a former walk-on, for a minute in the first half.
After failing to reach double figures against Oregon, the first time that had happened this season, Randolph returned to his old scoring ways with 10 points against OSU. But that came on 15 shots, needing a putback dunk during garbage time to get there.
The sophomore remains Arizona’s leading scorer, at 15.4 points per game, but he hasn’t been himself of late as he’s fallen into a prolonged shooting slump.
Randolph was 5 for 15 on Saturday, making him 26 for 75 (34.7 percent) in Pac-12 play. He was 0 for 4 from 3, the only Wildcat who attempted a perimeter shot not to make one, and he’s down to 33.3 percent from deep for the season.
A stellar shooting performance from outside masked another bad one from inside the arc. Arizona was 14 of 40 on 2-pointers against OSU, this after going 13 of 30 on 2s against Oregon.
The Wildcats were credited with 26 points in the paint, missing 11 of 22 layups.
Some of that had to do with not having Jeter camped out down low for easy baskets, but in many cases Arizona’s attempts to drive to the basket were out of control and resulted in off-balance shots that had no chance of going in.