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Ryan Luther being unselfish during hot streak — by being selfish

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Arizona is at its best when the senior is letting the shots fly

ryan-luther-arizona-basketball-3-point-shooting-wildcats-cal-stanford-pitt-williams Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Luther was being selfish by being too unselfish.

That was the message Sean Miller conveyed to the senior forward after he only hoisted three 3s in the Arizona Wildcats‘ loss to the Washington Huskies on Feb. 7.

Miller calls it the “epiphany moment” that led to the hot streak Luther is enjoying now. The Pitt transfer is averaging 15.3 points over the last four games because he is passing less and shooting more.

Luther is averaging eight 3-point attempts per game during his recent surge, more than double his season average. He has made exactly half those triples, upping his 3-point percentage to 40.2 on the season, the best mark on a struggling team that only shoots 34 percent from distance and has trouble scoring more often than not.

“He’s unselfish to a fault,” Miller said. “He’s such a great kid. Off the court, that’s awesome. But on the court, his greatest weapon is his ability to shoot it on a team that doesn’t shoot well. So when he gives up open 3s and makes one more pass to a player that has a worse percentage than him, it’s actually really selfish.

“I think once it was framed to him like that, and we started to go through the numbers and really talked about the responsibility that he has is to take every open shot he can get. And if he goes 0 for 10, those are 10 really good shots for Arizona.”

Luther had arguably his best game of the season Thursday against Cal when the Wildcats finally snapped their seven-game losing streak. He buried five 3s in a 19-point outburst, both numbers are season highs.

Afterwards, Luther credited his recent success to boosted confidence, and his increased aggression to Brandon Williams’ absence, knowing someone has to take on the scoring load as the star guard rests his right knee.

Then, in typical selfless Luther fashion, he praised his coaches and teammates for getting him the ball in the right spots.

“We have some good zone attack,” he said. “With so many teams playing zone, we’ve worked on it a lot. So I’ve kind of gotten in a rhythm of where my open spots are, where I got to be aggressive, where I got to find my teammates, and I think my teammates have done the same.”

Miller likes Luther’s versatility on offense, saying he is a sound passer out of the high post and comfortable maneuvering along the baseline. But it is increasingly obvious where Luther shines the most.

“His gift is his ability to shoot it,” Miller said. “We want him to do more than just shoot 3s, but on our team creating good, open shots for him is big.”

Even bigger is Luther not passing them up.

“My teammates and coaches give me that confidence and want me to shoot those,” he said. “So whenever I’m open, I gotta be aggressive.”