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No. 2 Arizona suffers back-to-back losses, fall to SMU

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

Ira Lee confers with Sean Miller after coming dangerously close to fouling out against CSU Bakersfield. Lee had 5 points and 7 rebounds on the night, and did foul out before the end of the game. 

The No. 2 ranked Arizona Men’s basketball team continues to struggle as it fell to SMU 66-60 after suffering back-to-back losses in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas.  

The Wildcats have not lost back-to-back non-conference games since the 2011-12 season when it lost to Mississippi State and San Diego State. The loss drops Arizona to 3-2 on the season. 

Arizona struggled on offense through most of the game against SMU. The Wildcats started the game off strong, jumping to an early 10 point lead. However, turnovers sparked a comeback by the Mustangs who brought it back to within one point at the half. 

Overall, Arizona played well on defense, holding the Mustangs to 31 percent shooting from the floor and 36 percent from deep, but it did not make up for the lackluster offense. 

The Wildcats went on a 13-0 run in the second half while it held the Mustangs scoreless for over eight minutes. But it wasn't enough, as Arizona could not find a rhythm and struggled on the offensive glass, where SMU out rebounded them 20-11.

"Their second shots really hurt us,” head coach Sean Miller said according to the Arizona Daily Star. “Tonight, 20 turnovers killed us.”

Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton were the only players who scored in double-digits for the Wildcats. Trier had 22 points and five rebounds on 8-for-16 shooting while Ayton posted another double-double with 17 points and a career high 15 rebounds. 

The Wildcats consistently looked lost on offense and seemed to defer to Trier to create a shot when nothing was working. Trier managed to force offense by hitting tough shots but had five turnovers and struggled to hold on to the ball when the game was on the line. 

Out of Arizona’s freshmen, the only player other than Ayton to score was Ira Lee. Lee had five points and six rebounds in 17 minutes of play. Alex Barcello did not score and had two crucial, potentially game-changing turnovers in transition as Arizona was starting to make a run late in the second half. 

The Wildcats could not find their shot from behind the arch all night. They shot 25 percent, going 5-for-20. Trier hit three of Arizona’s five three’s. 

Arizona will go on to play No. 18 Purdue at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the loser's bracket of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament to wrap up their island trip.


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