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3 up, 3 down in Arizona’s loss to Utah

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NCAA Basketball: Arizona at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats’ losing streak reached six games Thursday as they fell to the Utah Utes 83-76 in Salt Lake City, dropping to 14-11 overall and 5-7 in the Pac-12.

It’s Arizona’s longest losing streak since 1983-84, the first year of the Lute Olson era. Our full recap can be found here, and here three positive and negative takeaways from the action:

Up

Ira Lee

Lee’s production comes and goes, but his motor is unwavering. Both came together in this game, as the sophomore posted 11 points and eight rebounds. He had a vicious left-handed slam that was Arizona’s highlight of the game and he even hit a mid-range jumper, too.

Lee has sneakily been solid for the Wildcats since Pac-12 play started, looking like he can be a key player off the bench the next two seasons.

Ryan Luther from the corner

Luther hit half of Arizona’s eight 3s, continuing to show his marksmanship from the corner. He finished with 16 points in 25 minutes.

Luther isn’t terribly big, skilled or athletic, but when he is not hesitating with his shot he can be a real weapon offensively.

Ball control

It wasn’t a bad night offensively for the Wildcats, who shot 45 percent, and the best part is that they only turned the ball over seven times.

Arizona doesn’t have many strengths, but if it does have one, it is that it is usually not loose with the ball. The Wildcats entered the night 37th in the country in turnover percentage.

Before I get to the negatives, I’ll take a second to acknowledge Alex Barcello, who hit two 3s to finish with 12 points, his second-highest point total of the season.

Down

Brandon Randolph

The tailspin continues for the sophomore, who was held to two points for the second straight game, this time on five shots.

Since the start of conference play, Randolph is shooting just 30.6 percent from the field and 25 percent from the 3. Arizona has a lot of problems, but it is impossible to be a good team when your leading scorer is putting up numbers like that.

From an individual standpoint, it’s unfortunate since Randolph appeared to be taking the freshman-to-sophomore leap.

Justin Coleman

Coleman has been asked to do an awful lot with Brandon Williams (knee) missing his fourth straight game, and this was not one of Coleman’s better outings.

The senior finished with seven points on nine shots and committed twice as many turnovers (4) as assists (2).

Coleman’s worst moment was when he pulled up for a deep 3 after probing the lane. The shot missed badly and it led to a 3 for Utah in transition, which extended the Utes’ lead to 53-49 and eventually ballooned into an 18-2 run, as Utah put the game away.

Defense

Utah is the best offensive team in the Pac-12 and Arizona has not been a good defensive team for a month now, so it was no surprise that the Utes shot the way they did (.500/.417/.750.).

But it got really bad in the second half, where Utah scored 52 points and made 59 percent of its shots. The Utes had a stretch where they made 14 of 18 shots, turning a two-point deficit into a 16-point lead.

UA coach Sean Miller got so angry that he benched everyone and subbed in walk-on Matt Weyand and former walk-on Jake DesJardinsand went to a 2-3 zone! — to send a message to his team.

Cameras showed Miller barking at Chase Jeter, who checked back in a few moments later, only to pick up his fifth foul when he badly bit on a pump fake and fouled while trying to recover.

Arizona also continually lost track of sharpshooter Parker Van Dyke, who made five 3s in the first half and wound up sinking seven for the game, finishing with a game-high 23 points.