3. Arizona Wildcats (14-5, 5-1 Pac-12) LW: 1
What a week it’s been in Tucson.
First and foremost, give credit to the Oregon Ducks. Coach Dana Altman’s group has been the only team in the Pac-12 recently to consistently give Arizona a hard time at the McKale Center.
That proved true again on Jan. 17, with the Ducks grinding out a 59-54 win over the Wildcats. Arizona controlled the glass and got to the free throw line more than Oregon, but coach Sean Miller’s team was unable to salvage a game in which it shot below 30 percent in the first half.
Redshirt junior forward Chase Jeter led the ‘Cats with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double, one of two players to reach double figures. Jeter’s been consistent but it is going to be difficult to win games when Brandon Randolph and Ryan Luther shoot a combined 3-of-16 from the floor.
However, Arizona did manage a split of the weekend with a 82-71 win over Oregon State and handled the Beavers without Jeter.
The big man was undercut five minutes into the game by OSU junior forward Tres Tinkle going for a rebound and landed hard on his back. He was dealing with back spasms and did not return to the floor. According to Miller, the injury is “not significant.”
In Jeter’s absence, the Wildcats put together one of its best offensive performances of the year. Five players scored at least 10 points, led by a 20-point effort from freshman guard Brandon Williams.
What primarily stands out in this win is the perimeter shooting of Arizona. As a team, the ‘Cats shoot 35 percent from deep. Against OSU, they knocked down 13 triples at a 48 percent clip.
With momentum in hand, the ominous shadow of Emanuel ‘Book’ Richardson reared its head Tuesday morning. Miller’s former assistant pleaded guilty to bribery in an ongoing federal investigation of NCAA recruiting.
On Jan. 2, former USC assistant Tony Bland pleaded guilty as well. Coincidentally, the Wildcats kick off a two-game road trip to Los Angeles with the Trojans on Thursday.