2. Arizona Wildcats (6-2) Last Week: 3
It’s evident Arizona lacks the talent typically blossomed by coach Sean Miller. What we’ve learned, however, is they still carry the same toughness and grit.
After losing back-to-back games to Gonzaga and Auburn in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the Wildcats answered the bell with a true road victory at Connecticut. And while it wasn’t pretty, UA corrected some lingering issues from the Maui tournament.
Like their two losses, the Wildcats couldn’t find an offensive rhythm. They made just three of their 17 attempts from 3-point range, and leading scorer Brandon Randolph (20 points) shot just 5-of-15 from the field.
Instead of folding, Arizona found life in their pack-line defense. A stingy second half held the Huskies under 43 percent shooting, and 19 forced turnovers created 16 points in transition.
To win in true road environments, sustaining momentum is crucial. The Wildcats showed mental toughness by only surrendering the lead to the Huskies three times while converting 12 of their 13 free throw attempts in the final two minutes and 13 seconds.
Three days prior to the UConn win, the Wildcats made swift work of Georgia Southern at the McKale Center. Center Chase Jeter led all scorers with 18 points, and UA had four other players score in double figures to contribute to a 30-point win.
While concerns still exist, Miller’s players are executing with his intensity. And even though none are NBA Draft picks, they’ve shown the work ethic that might make them a Pac-12 contender.