After putting on their worst offensive performance of the 2019-2020 season the Arizona Wildcats were beaten 63-58 by Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.
Truth be told, it could have been much worse considering just how poorly the Wildcats played offensively in their first matchup this year against a ranked opponent.
While our full recap of the game can by found here, here are some further analysis from what was an ugly game all around for both teams.
Considering the fact that Arizona had its worst-ever shooting game under head coach Sean Miller (14 of 52 for 26.9%) and were looking like it was going to be blown out of the water in the first half, the fact they only lost by only five points shows just how resilient the Wildcats were against Baylor.
The UA was outrebounded 40-33, had too many turnovers (16) and didn’t make a field goal for a crucial 10-minute stretch in the second half, and yet were still able to stay in the game and could have ultimately sent it to overtime had Josh Green’s three gone in the bucket.
That chance to extend the game simply isn’t there if the Cats didn’t show some serious heart and determination to get back in what seemed like a lost cause.
They outscored Baylor 34-28 in the second half and committed just five turnovers, six fewer than the 11 they gave away in the first.
Overall it was an offensive performance to forget, but the Wildcats didn’t give up on either end of the court (they limited the Bears to 6 of 27 from the field 1 of 11 from three in the second half) and should be proud of the way they stuck around until the end in a game they really had no business being in.
Nobody was sure if the freshmen duo of Green (strep throat) and Nico Mannion (back) would play heading into Saturday—they had missed most of practice during the week—and even though they ultimately held an L, it was huge having them out there for Arizona.
Nico was seen limping at times throughout the game and neither of them had their best games. Mannion finished with 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting (he was 8 for 8 on free throws), five assists and two turnovers and Green went for eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and three turnovers.
Who knows how big the blowout would have been had they not played.
While it proved to be a rough shooting day for pretty much everyone involved (on both teams), there was one single guy who finished perfect from the field: Christian Koloko.
Arizona’s freshmen center may have taken just one shot, but he was active throughout his career-high 12-minute appearance and finished with three points, two blocks and two assists, including a behind-the-back dime that Miller afterwards called “one of the best passes that I’ve seen a big man have. “
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO BEHIND THE BACK PASS pic.twitter.com/azOdmna8QC— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) December 7, 2019
In a game where the Wildcats struggled in a big way on offense, Koloko was certainly a bright spot.
As mentioned earlier, it just wasn’t a good day offensively for Arizona.
They shot terribly from both the field (27%) and the three-point line (11%) and considering how Baylor wasn’t much better (30% and 25%, respectively), the Cats will be feeling like they could have won that game had they just scored the ball a little bit better.
Afterwards Miller was upset once again with his team’s shot selection and 16 turnovers.
“When you play against good teams on the road, the early shots aren’t going to be as plentiful nor are they going to be as open,” Miller said. “Too many times when you take quick, ill-advised shots you almost put that in a category of a turnover. You have X number of those, plus 16 turnovers, and then you don’t have maybe your typical night when you get a couple good ones. Next thing you know you end up with 58 points.”
It truly seemed like Baylor got every single important loose ball or rebound in this game.
While the rebounding margin (40-33) wasn’t as big as last year’s ridiculous one at McKale Center, for the most part it seemed like the Bears simply wanted it more than the Wildcats.
On a day where Arizona couldn’t shoot either, the lack of hustle for loose balls and rebounds just wasn’t acceptable.
The Wildcats shot just 2 of 18 from three against the Bears, and while the second one they made (from Jemarl Baker Jr. with 2:12 remaining in the game) put them in position for a chance to steal an ugly win, numbers like that just aren’t good enough to realistically get dubs.
Especially on the road against ranked opponents.
In the end it was probably just an aberration, but the Cats were so poor from the three-point line that their lackluster performance in that area had to be mentioned here.