The Arizona Wildcats limped to the halfway point of the Pac-12 conference schedule with three straight losses and four in five. The 4-0 start, which briefly made skeptics wonder if all the talk of a rebuilding year was bunk, a distant memory.
And things don’t get any easier for Arizona (14-8, 5-4) in the immediate future, as the first-place Washington Huskies (18-4, 9-0) come to McKale Center on Thursday to start the second half of league play.
But if recent history is any indicator, the Wildcats could be in line for a late-season surge that may even keep them in the conversation for an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
Under coach Sean Miller, Arizona is 58-23 over the final nine Pac-12 games of each season. His only losing record came in that first year, when the Wildcats went 4-5 in the second half to finish 10-8 in the league.
Take out that season and Arizona has averaged 6.75 wins during the latter half of conference play, going 7-2 or better on six occasions. That includes both previous times the Wildcats went 5-4 in the first half, in 2015-16 and 2011-12, only to win seven of nine down the stretch.
Arizona plays five home games during the second half, the first time that’s happened since the 2015-16 season and only the fourth time in Miller’s 10 years. It is projected to win four of those, according to KenPom.com, winning the last four over Washington State, California, Stanford and ASU after dropping the Washington game.
The Wildcats are only projected to go 1-3 on the road, though, with a split at the Rocky Mountain schools and a winless trip to the Oregon schools.
Arizona has a 22-21 road record under Miller during the second half.