Sweet start turns sour as Arizona loses to Auburn to close out Maui trip
Hawaii is known for producing items such as sugar cane and pineapples. For the Arizona men’s basketball team, however, Wednesday night on the island was anything but sweet.
For the second night in a row, Arizona hung tough with a top-ten opponent, only to run out of gas in the second half. The ‘Cats suffered their second loss in as many days, falling 73-57 against No. 8 Auburn in the final game of the Maui Invitational.
Arizona found itself down 19-9 with 9:30 left in the first half, before a 13-5 run that was capped off by two Justin Coleman baskets cut the lead to just two. Auburn then closed the half outscoring the last four points to lead 28-22 going into halftime.
The ‘Cats defense allowed them to keep the game close despite shooting just 38 percent for the half, including 14 percent from 3. Despite their bench being outscored 18-4 and giving up 13 first-half turnovers, Arizona was able to force 10 of their own and limit the streaky shooting Tigers to just 27 percent from 3.
Brandon Randolph opened the second half with two three-pointers in the first two minutes to tie the game at 31. Arizona then had the chance to take the lead, but a blown layup off of a pretty spin move by Brandon Williams led to a transition 3 by Auburn’s Bryce Brown. This was the closest Arizona would get the rest of the game, as Auburn used an 11-0 run midway through the half to break open what had been at most a two possession game much of the way.
Much like the Gonzaga game from the night before, Arizona was unable to contain the firepower Auburn had for the full 40 minutes. Auburn shot 69.6 percent the second half, outscoring the Arizona bench 15-0.
After a game the night before that saw Arizona have just three total assists, the ‘Cats once again had a hard time controlling the ball, turning it over 19 times to just 9 assists. Randolph led the way for Arizona with 18 points on 6-10 from the floor, while Coleman continued his impressive Maui run with 16. Coleman was named to the All-Maui Tournament Team, averaging 20.6 points per game in the three games.
The trip was interesting for Arizona in the sense that throughout its first three home games, the Wildcats held close leads at halftime before blowing out their opponents in the second half, as opposed to their last two games in Maui that saw them lead or within striking distance going into halftime, only to be blown out. The ‘Cats outscored their first three opponents of the season by a combined total of 57 points in the second half, but were outscored by 35 in the second half of their final two games in Maui.
Arizona will look to bounce back Nov. 29 when it takes on Georgia Southern in McKale Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
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