Breakdown: Arizona Wildcats down USC
After a disappointing loss at UCLA in a very winnable game
– the Wildcats stepped up in a big way on the road against
USC. The Trojans were coming off their own disappointing
loss for very different reasons due to a blowout loss to
Arizona State Thursday. This 57-46 win lifted the ‘Cats to
2-1 in conference play heading back home for the next few
Defensively, the Wildcats put the clamps down, forcing six
turnovers and allowing USC to shoot 20.7% (6-29) from the
floor. It was sheer dominance in the first half, as
Arizona took a 32-16 lead to the locker room. It was a
confidence boosting half for that was much needed for the
Wildcats getting back to the defense that they had been
showing all season chasing down shooters and forcing
To start the first half, the Wildcats dealt out the damage
in a nice turn of events. This team had been consistently
falling behind to start games and came out strong Sunday
with a 12-3 lead early. Jesse Perry (20 points 3 rebounds)
played with great energy and paced this team early to
create the lead. His energy seemed contagious as the rest
of the team jumped on board, on both ends of the court.
As good as the game started for the Wildcats in the first
half, it was equally as bad to start the second. Solomon
Hill (11 points, 10 rebounds) made an impressive move on
the baseline to knock down a mid-range jump-shot followed
by a pair of free throws raising the lead to 36-16 before
giving up 6 straight points to USC.
The Trojans made it a battle in the second half thanks to
early turnovers, missed shots, and some awful natural
lighting. At the Galen Center, there are large windows on
both sides of the gym behind the baskets, allowing
sunlight to shine onto the playing floor. In this case,
the lighting played excellent defense holding the Trojans
to 16 points in the first half and the Wildcats to 25
points in the second half.
Throughout the second half, the Wildcats kept searching
for the “hammer play” to knockout the Trojans, but those
plays only resulted in allowing them back in the game. The
lead was trimmed down to 10 points with just less than
eight minutes to play before Jordin Mayes (4 points 3
assists) and Kyle Fogg (10 points 3 rebounds/assists) put
together a quick run that put a bow on this game.
Complete games have been rare for this team as they either
start slow and have to come back like or then they have
games like this where they get the lead and have to fight
off a comeback.
A glaring stat that is sticking out on the court is
Perry’s lack of rebounding as of late. In the last nine
games, Perry has grabbed 45 total rebounds with only one
game over 10+. In the teams’ first eight games, he
gathered 68 rebounds including six double-figure games.
His scoring has been very impressive over the last five
games (4-1) averaging 15.6 points per in that span.
With defensive performances like this, the Wildcats look
like a team that can win the new Pac-12. They head back
home for a visit from Oregon (2-1) and Oregon State (1-3),
both of which are adapting to the new conference. It will
be a welcomed return home for Nick Johnson who, to put it
lightly, struggled in the California trip going 3-15 from
the field (0-6 3pt) with 6 points and 4 turnovers.
It was definitely a trip to forget, and to learn from for
both Johnson and the entire Wildcats team.