Losing to San Diego State University is indefensible.
This team lost four starters, Kawhi Leonard to the NBA (No. 15 pick
traded to San Antonio) and Malcolm Thomas, D.J. Gay and Billy White to
graduation. They lost 48.3 PPG, 25.3 RPG and 9.5 APG with those four
players who carried the team to a berth in the Sweet Sixteen before
losing to eventual National Champion Connecticut.
That team is gone and a shell of it featuring Chase Tapley and Jamaal
Franklin came into Tucson and controlled the Wildcats all game. The final
score is no indication of the dominance the Aztecs had for most of the
So far in this young season the Wildcats have fallen behind early and
relied on a combination of timely shooting and Solomon Hill stepping up
to get wins late in games. That worked well during a 4-0 start featuring
one victory over a quality opponent.
Through five games the Wildcats as a team shot 39.1% from three
including a blistering 48.3% (14-29) against St. John’s. The shots were
not falling early as they dug a 14 point hole shooting 1-8 from three.
Down the stretch Hill went 1-3 from the field with four points and a
turnover during the last eight minutes of the game that began with his
team down 54-46. For this team to be effective and win games they
need Hill (or somebody) to step up and say, “this is my team and I want
the ball when it counts.” Until somebody does that a lot of games may
look similar to this one.
One bright spot to take from this game and from the season to date is
that the Wildcats are playing quality team defense only yielding 64.3 PPG
to their opponents. They are also turning them over, collecting 12.6 TPG
that leads to quality fast-break offense and transition threes.
A combination of shot-making, tough defense and causing turnovers will
have to be the formula for these young Wildcats. They have a few
unimpressive wins and two standout loses on the resume after six
The loss to Mississippi State is easy to stomach because they are filled
with good talent and can be a really good team. This loss shows the
Wildcats youth, weaknesses and, to put it as plain as possible, they are
not as good as last year.
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