The Arizona Wildcats have their first opportunity to avenge losses from earlier in the season when they host the Oregon schools this weekend. But coach Sean Miller has no intention of including the word “revenge” in any part of the game plan.
“Somebody told me a long time ago, revenge kills you,” Miller said Tuesday. “You start thinking in those terms it’s not healthy in any way, shape or form.”
But while Arizona might not want to specifically avenge those January losses at Oregon and Oregon State, it can still seek redemption for certain things it struggled to do in those games.
“There’s always different things from the previous game or games that we’re trying to respond, to fix or improve,” Miller said. “This week my hope is we can be a more efficient, better shooting against both Oregon State and Oregon.”
To wit, the 74-73 overtime loss to the Ducks on Jan. 9 and the 82-65 setback to the Beavers three days later—arguably the Wildcats’ worst game of the season—both lacked two offensive benchmarks that have been present in nearly every UA victory.
Arizona made only 47.6 percent of its two-point attempts at Oregon, dipping to 44.4 percent against OSU. And the Wildcats took more than 32 percent of their shots from 3-point range in each of those defeats.
For the season, Arizona is 13-0 when shooting better than 50 percent from 2 and 7-0 when less than 32 of its total shot attempts are from beyond the arc. In games that it does at least one of those two things it is 16-0, compared to 2-7 when failing to do either.
The Wildcats make 51.2 percent of their 2s on the season, which ranks 97th in the nation, yet in Pac-12 play they’re hitting at just a 47 percent clip, which is sixth-best among the 12 schools. In their four league losses they are shooting only 41.1 percent from 2, including the abysmal 9-of-36 performance in the home loss to UCLA.
Arizona’s 3-point percentage is 35.1 percent for the season but only 32.5 percent in Pac-12 play and just 27.2 percent during the last six games. And not surprisingly, every league loss has seen the Wildcats take at least 32 percent of their shots from the perimeter and miss at least 12 triples.
Miller will always want a strong balance between scoring in the paint and from the perimeter, so completely abandoning the 3 won’t happen even with the current slump. Instead, look for a concerted effort to shoot closer to the basket and take advantage of opponents who have been lax defending the rim at times.
Oregon State’s Pac-12 foes are hitting 51.3 percent of their 2-pointers, the second-highest rate in the league, while Oregon is allowing 47.1 percent on 2s in league play but in three of its four losses the opponents have shot 51.4 percent or better.