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3 up, 3 down in Arizona’s loss to USC

Hard to find many positives in this game

arizona-wildcats-basketball-preseason-polls-2020-21-early-roundup-predictions Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats fell to USC, 80-57, on Thursday night at the Galen Center. There weren’t many positives to take away from this one.

Without Chase Jeter, the Wildcats couldn’t find a groove on either side of the ball. Our recap can be found here, and here three ups and three downs from the blowout loss:

3 up

1: Chase Jeter’s importance

The biggest takeaway from this game might be how integral Chase Jeter is to this year’s team. Without the big man, the Wildcats were out of sync in every way. Jeter is the glue to Arizona’s offensive plan. Without him, Arizona couldn’t bait USC into an inside-out game. USC’s zone took advantage of Arizona’s bad shooting night, and the Wildcats couldn’t compensate by going to the paint consistently.

2: Turnover ratio

If there’s one positive stat that Sean Miller can take away from this game, it’s that Arizona recorded six steals on the night while committing just seven turnovers. Three of the steals came from Devonaire Doutrive. Those steals didn’t amount to much, and Arizona’s lack of turnovers didn’t either, but at least the Wildcats were ahead in one area.

3: Ira Lee’s enhanced role

Ira Lee didn’t play a perfect game, but he kept focused for 40 minutes and wound up only a few rebounds short of a double-double, finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Lee’s efficiency from the field held him back some, but it was an otherwise solid performance with a short-handed front court.

3 down

1: Scoring against zone defense

Sean Miller did not figure out the zone defense in the last four days. Maybe it didn’t help that Miller missed a day of practice for being sick, but the Wildcats were particularly ill prepared. It’s not just that the Wildcats had an atrocious shooting night from deep, it’s that when they did get the ball to Ryan Luther or Ira Lee in the post, there was little that either could do besides go up for a tough angle or pass out for a bad look.

2: Perimeter shooting

Arizona made its first 3-pointer of the night. Then it went on to miss 20 of its next 24 attempts. You won’t win many games with that type of performance, even if someone like Jeter wasn’t injured.

3: Perimeter defense

The Wildcats have been one of the better 3-point defending teams in the Pac-12, so it was a bit surprising to see them give up 30 points from deep. The Trojans had plenty of clear looks from outside and they buried them.