The good and bad of the Arizona Wildcats' win at Utah
Get off the court
Arizona head coach Sean Miller would never admit it, but he was frustrated with the way the final seconds of both the ASU and California games were handled by the officials.
Both of those games ended with the student sections prematurely rushing the court and causing a delay in the game. Despite the delay, the referees called no technical foul for their interference.
Wednesday night, even though it was once again a close game, the Wildcats didn’t have to deal with fans on the court and didn’t have to answer questions about it, either.
One less distraction they have to deal with.
Arizona actually can shoot
Arizona’s offense was horrible against ASU. A low shooting percentage combined with plentiful turnovers caused the then-No. 2 Wildcats to be upset by their northern rivals.
After the loss to the Sun Devils, Miller admitted something needed to be done and that having a sturdy defense wasn’t going to make up for the lack of offense they had ever since Brandon Ashley went out.
Wednesday, Arizona finished the game shooting a respectable 43 percent from the field, but hovered around an impressive 50 percent for most of the night. The percentage dipped off in the second half. Miller will likely need to address the poor late-game shooting before the team plays Colorado on Saturday.
Hey, you’re pretty good
Sophomore shooting guard Gabe York made his second start of the season. He replaced forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who was inserted in the starting rotation after Ashley’s injury on Feb. 1.
After Ashley’s injury, Hollis-Jefferson performed well in the starting lineup, as expected. However, York’s numbers fell and were even non-existent against ASU on Friday.
Miller switched things up in Utah. Instead of having a typical two-guard rotation, Miller added York, a third guard in the starting rotation.
The change seemed to work, as York finished the game with 15 points, most coming in the first half. He was effective from the field and helped expand a depleted bench that was the talk of the town after the ASU loss.
The Wildcats’ “supreme” freshman was held to just three points Wednesday night. He appeared frustrated and uncomfortable on the court.
Gordon fouled out with eight minutes and 41 seconds left in the game. Out of his five fouls, three of them were while playing offense. Lately, his shot selection has been so-so, but Wednesday was even more questionable.
As for free throws, Gordon didn’t have too many opportunities. The freshman was 1-3 from the line, but most Arizona fans are starting to get tired of hearing how great of a free-throw shooter Gordon is. Following last night’s game, Gordon was still shooting 41 percent from the free-throw line.
Can I get a rebound?
Arizona reached its once-No. 1 standing by being the biggest and most physical team in the country. Last night, Arizona played small. A strong shooting percentage made up for the lack of size early, but when the shots weren’t falling at the end of regulation, its lack of physicality was exposed.
In the second half, Utah constantly attacked Arizona’s poor low post defense. And when Gordon fouled out the low post, rebounding and size got even worse.
Arizona finished with 31 rebounds, 11 of which were offensive rebounds. For the first time in a while, the Wildcats lost the rebounding battle.
The poor rebounding was reflected in second-chance points as well. Arizona only had four second-chance points, a category where it usually excels in.
Center Kaleb Tarczewski has played well as of late. Miller said the ASU game was his best ever. But Wednesday, he disappeared and wasn’t nearly as effective. He finished with eight points but only had five field goal attempts. His value to this team should not be in question. He’s one of the few Wildcats who can make late free throws, and that’s all he’s getting respect for.
— Follow Luke Della @LukeDella