ANALYSIS: Three reasons Arizona was able to end its seven-game losing streak
A losing streak that felt like an eternity – okay, actually only 33 days – came to an end Thursday night as Arizona men’s basketball finally got back in the win column with a 76-51 thrashing of California. The Wildcats used a 46-point second-half offensive outburst to down the Golden Bears in McKale Center. Here are three more reasons Arizona was able to end its seven-game skid.
No finger pointing
Arizona’s improved performance actually started days before the game against Cal. It would have been easy for UA players to play the blame game and put fault on each other during the losing streak, or for head coach Sean Miller to degrade his players. But neither of those things happened.
“We have very little finger pointing,” Miller said. “Hearing things from the outside, what it can do is start fracturing your team. Guys start pointing fingers, start looking to the future beyond Arizona, make excuses …
that hasn’t happened with us.”
Miller also noted that players’ leadership and effort have been consistent throughout the last month and the group, although didn’t play with a lot of confidence, still trusted the process.
“No one gave up,” as Ryan Luther put it.
Lights out from Luther
The Pitt transfer has been Arizona’s best shooter during the recent woes, and he continued that trend once again. Luther tied his season high with 19 points, but more impressive was his 3-point shooting.
Luther knocked down 5-8 from long range, marking the third game in a row that Luther’s hit four or more 3s. The reason behind the recent hot hand?
“Shooting it with confidence,” Luther said.
Luther and Miller had a conversation recently in which the UA coach told him he needed to take open shots when the ball comes to him, and Luther has responded.
The 6-foot-9 forward also showcased that he’s more than just a spot-up shooter, faking out a Cal defender at the arc and then driving to the hoops for a one-handed dunk in the second half.
“When he jumps, I never think he’s going to dunk. I think the ball is going to hit the front of the rim and he’s going to land on his back. But he surprises you once in a while,” Miller joked.
Bench scores in bunches
With Emmanuel Akot’s departure and Brandon Williams out with knee pain, Arizona has been itching to get an uptick in production from players not in the starting lineup. That came to fruition Thursday, as three bench players combined for 40 percent of UA’s offense.
Devonaire Doutrive collected a career-high 11 points with a couple of 3s, Alex Barcello poured in 14 marking the second time in the last three games he’s scored in double-digits, and Ira Lee added six points with a couple of flashy dunks.
Arizona will try to make it two wins in a row when it takes on Stanford Sunday night at 6 p.m.
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