Men's basketball notes: Arizona Wildcats get bashed
BERKELEY, Calif. — Two things are for sure after Arizona’s loss at California Saturday: It won’t finish the season 40-0, and starting forward Brandon Ashley is done for the season with a foot injury.
Last night, Ashley met with doctors to examine his foot, which head coach Sean Miller called “broken” following the Wildcats’ 60-58 loss to California.
After meeting with doctors, the UA announced that Ashley would miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury.
Making the free ones
Junior guard Nick Johnson shoots a 3-point jump shot during Arizona's 65-56 win against Utah at McKale Center on Sunday.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Arizona was shooting a dismal 66.2 percent from the free-throw line. Only junior Nick Johnson and sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski had been reliable from the stripe. The thought was that in a close game, such as Saturday’s, the poor free-throw shooting would be the reason the Wildcats finally lost.
Ironically, their first loss was in a game where they made all 16 of their free-throw attempts, with Tarczewski making 12.
But maybe being a poor free-throw shooting team is Arizona’s secret. Former TucsonCitizen.com administrator Anthony Gimino tweeted on Friday that the last Wildcats team to shoot under 70 percent was the 1996-97 team that won the NCAA National Championship.
And on the subject of free throws, and for the sake of conversation, a two-shot technical foul maybe should have been called following Justin Cobbs’ game-winning shot with 0.9 seconds remaining.
Immediately after the shot went in, hundreds of California students and fans rushed the court, despite the game not being over. Golden Bears’ head coach Mike Montgomery was seen pushing fans off the court in fear that the referees would call the foul.
The official rule:
RULE 10, SECTION 2, ARTICLE 8
“Delaying the game by preventing the ball from being promptly made live or by preventing continuous play, such as but not limited to, followers entering the playing court before the player activity has been terminated. When the delay does not interfere with play, it shall be ignored. …
“PENALTY: (Art. 8) Two free throws awarded to the offended team. The ball shall be put back in play at the point of interruption.”
Bunnies not reproducing
With Ashley out of the lineup, the offensive burden and pressure was placed on Johnson to try to make up for the 6-foot-8 forward’s production.
Johnson scored a season-low four points. He only made one of his 14 shot attempts and missed all five of his 3-point attempts. Adding insult to injury, the assumed leader of the Wildcats had five turnovers against the Golden Bears.
After the loss, Miller didn’t believe that Johnson was trying too hard to make up for Ashley’s absence. But stats don’t lie, and it’s clear that not having Ashley’s frontcourt presence was too difficult for Johnson and Arizona.
Without Ashley, a capable 3-point shooter, Arizona wasn’t able to spread the court, and California dared freshman Aaron Gordon, a poor 3-point shooter, to shoot.
Now, the biggest worry on Miller and the Wildcats’ minds has to be whether they will have another late regular season collapse, as they did last year.
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella