Week from hell ends with satisfaction as Wildcats take Pac-12 crown
The emotional rollercoaster for Arizona men's basketball almost hit a new low in Saturday's 66-54 win over Cal in McKale. But the Wildcats, as consistent with the previous parts of their season, found a way to win late and clinch the Pac-12 regular season championship outright.
The toll from the past week for Arizona was evident in the play on the court, the crowd that filled McKale and on the face of its' embattled coach. Fair or not, this this team was depleted, emotionally, psychologically and physically. The next four days couldn't have come at a better time.
"It was really an emotional week, a lot of things flying around," senior Parker Jackson-Cartwright said. "…I think everybody is just drained, mentally, physically, you know even coach coming back , we were glad to have him back and getting Zo [Allonzo Trier] back. Everybody is just a little worn down, mentally it takes a toll on you."
A sluggish performance was the result, especially offensively, which is uncharacteristic for this year's bunch. That point best represented by the play of Trier, who himself had been in the midst of another case of ineligibility due to a PED violation. The second leading scorer in the Pac-12 came through with just two points on the day, a career-low. In fact, he was 0-for-9 until a late steal led to a layup with the game in balance.
It was one of those games for UA, sloppy and ugly, but the result was the only thing that mattered.
"With our team we've fought, scratched and clawed all the way through," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "…We played with a heavy burden, really, for about 30 of the 40 minutes, we pressed…it was just simply tonight about being able to win the game and then close this chapter of our season and hopefully move forward with a lot of energy and able to play our best basketball."
Miller was asked if there was a word to describe the previous week, he chose devastating. In a word, it was revealing and accurate. His selection places the Wildcats in a place where few have seen, lost in a sea of nothing. There is no telling where this season will end and where next season begins. The emphatic cheers from the McKale Center crowd would tell you that they, too, know gloomy days may be ahead. It was surreal and it may be the last time nets are cut down for quite some time, we shall see.
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