The Arizona Wildcats routed Utah and Colorado last weekend to improve to 13-5 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12. The pair of wins earned them a spot in the Top 25, as they check in at No. 22 in the AP Poll entering Saturday’s road game at Arizona State.
What was your takeaway from the sweep of the Rocky Mountain schools? Here are ours.
Brian J. Pedersen
Maybe there is such a thing as too many options. This past weekend showed how Arizona would look with a 9-man rotation instead of 10, and the results were such that it should probably stay this way.
Who knows when Chase Jeter will be back in action, but when he returns it seems clear his minutes will be reduced. Not just because the other frontcourt players excelled against Utah and Colorado but because everything just flowed better, particularly on offense.
Jeter still has value, mostly on defense, but not at the expense of the lack of spacing that comes with having four perimeter options on the floor at once. His skill set is just too limited right now against most of the remaining Pac-12 competition.
To be honest, the home sweep did little to change my opinion of the Wildcats. All along we’ve known they are capable of looking like one of the best teams in the country, which has often been the case at the McKale Center.
The question remains whether or not they can replicate these kind of performances on the road, and until they do there will be legitimate concerns about the team’s ceiling.
That said, Max Hazzard is the kind of player who can very much change the team’s trajectory. If he has turned a corner and can be a reliable 3-point shooter off the bench, Arizona will have something it has rarely enjoyed under Sean Miller.
I’ll say this...things could be much worse if Arizona didn’t take care of business during this homestand. Frankly, they did what I expected them to do so I don’t necessarily believe kudos are in order.
However, they dominated both games and I think that should help get things back on track. Colorado was the first quality win since Illinois. Common denominator? Both of those games were at home.
The Wildcats have three big upcoming road games at ASU, Washington and Washington State. These will be very telling games because this team has a Jekyll-and-Hyde complex when it comes to the home-road splits.
At this point, it appears the conference has cooled off which means quality wins may be few and far between. The good news is they just need to worry about collecting wins and the rest will work itself out.
I expected Arizona to win both games, so the outcome doesn’t really change my outlook of the team. But the process might. There were a ton of positives to take away from the way the Wildcats played. Like Max Hazzard and Dylan Smith being dangerous tertiary scoring options, Ira Lee giving Arizona a quickness and rebounding presence that Chase Jeter does not, and Stone Gettings providing spacing that seemed to liberate the offense.
And not only was the way Arizona defended and rebounded promising as well, it fueled up the transition game where we know the Wildcats are at their best. If they can keep those things up, they are, in my mind, the Pac-12 favorite.
That said, Arizona hasn’t played a complete game away from McKale Center all season. We can’t forget that it was a little over a week over that they got waxed by Oregon State in Corvallis, their defense looking as bad as it’s ever been.
So, the sweep of the Mountain schools was nice, but all that progress will quickly go out the window if the Wildcats slip up against ASU.