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Arizona men’s basketball still searching for weekend opponent to fill ASU opening

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-asu-ucla-usc-colorado-state-covid-postponements-pac12-2022 Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images

Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd and other assistants were on the road recruiting on Tuesday, one day after the Wildcats beat Washington in their first game in 12 days. When their next game will be played is uncertain after Saturday’s planned visit to ASU was called off late Monday due to the Sun Devils’ COVID-19 issues.

The UA has three Pac-12 games to be made up because of postponements, the one at ASU as well as the games at No. 5 UCLA and No. 7 USC that were supposed to be held Dec. 30 and Jan. 2, respectively.

As of now, Arizona’s next game is Jan. 13 at home against Colorado, which would mean another 10-day break.

Both Arizona and UCLA had an open slot Thursday, but the Bruins opted instead to schedule a nonconference matchup against a Long Beach State team they beat 100-79 in November. And the Wildcats were reportedly in line to host unbeaten Colorado State on Saturday only to have that option taken away when the Mountain West scheduled CSU to visit San Diego State on Saturday since both teams had their original opponents go into a COVID pause.

USC, which is set to visit Cal on Thursday night for its first game since Dec. 18, has Saturday open since Stanford is on a pause, so there’s still a possibility the Wildcats and Trojans could meet in Los Angeles over the weekend. But if that happens it will be at a fanless Galen Center, as USC, UCLA and Stanford have all closed their sporting events to fans for the time being.

That would have meant an Arizona-UCLA game Thursday night in Pauley Pavilion wouldn’t have had a crowd either, which like with USC would mean the loss of a large amount of revenue from such a big matchup.

UCLA likely went with Long Beach State instead of the UA since it hasn’t played since Dec. 11, and it wouldn’t be ideal for the Bruins (or the Pac-12, for that matter) to have two of its three Top-10 teams face off when one has been out of action for so long.

The Pac-12 told Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star on Wednesday that it has final say on when rescheduled conference matchups are held, saying it is “always working in conjunction with our campuses to understand their preferences and constraints, being mindful of student-athlete health and safety, as well as consideration and availability of broadcast/media, facilities and staffing.”

As it stands, there are 26 Pac-12 games that have to be fit in between now and when the conference tournament begins March 9 in Las Vegas. It’s unlikely all 12 schools will play their full 20-game schedule, but look for the league to ensure that marquee matchups—like Arizona’s with the LA schools—get played even if that means having to sacrifice other previously scheduled games.