The Arizona Wildcats fell to the Stanford Cardinal in Tucson Thursday, Jan. 28, with a final score of 73-64. This result was Arizona’s second loss of the season to Stanford dropping the Wildcats record to 12-4 overall and 6-4 in the Pac-12.
James Akinjo led Arizona in scoring with 17 points 7-16 shooting, including 3-8 from three. Akinjo also added six assists and three rebounds in 35 minutes of play, but lost the ball six times as well, marking up a third of the team’s total turnovers.
Akinjo’s backcourt mate, Terrell Brown Jr. poured in 13 points on 5-10 shooting, 2-3 from three and an all-around stat line of five rebounds and four assists. Akinjo and Brown’s efficient nights of shooting, however, were trumped by the 18 turnovers surrendered by the Wildcats — the majority of those mistakes coming from the backcourt.
“We had nine of our 18 turnovers from our backcourt,” Miller said.
Bennedict Mathurin was able to play 26 minutes off his sprained ankle he suffered Monday night, and it was a shock he even played at all. Miller said Mathurin would only play in an “emergency” situation but it was clear he was needed early on.
Mathurin was pretty productive in his hobbled minutes, providing an efficient 10 points, four rebounds and two assists while being active defensively alongside freshman Dalen Terry. Mathurin pushing through and playing an overall solid game while in pain is just furthermore proving his lottery case.
“I give [Mathurin} a ton of credit,” Miller said. “There aren’t too many young players I’ve seen that played the way he played… He did the best he could. I think our chances of winning were bigger having him.”
A main bright spot of the season so far has been freshman Azuolas Tubelis. Tubelis had one of his forgettable games tonight only putting up four points on a very inefficient 1-9 shooting, including 2 turnovers.
A bigger issue may have been Tubelis played 34 minutes of action and only secured four rebounds. An unacceptable number from a starting big like that. Miller was asked about Tubelis’ struggles after the game.
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“They were very physical in a good way, but [Tubelis] didn’t play well,” Miller said.
Miller also rattled off some other big men stats against Stanford and continued to note how prepared Stanford was to defend against a talented forward like Tubelis.
“It’s not easy to score as a big guy against Stanford.”
Miller has not been happy with his team’s defense all season long and that continued late game on Thursday.
“From the eight-minute mark on, we had no ability to get a stop,” Miller said.
About that time was when Stanford started their 21-7 closing run which put the Wildcats away.
Though Miller was disappointed with his team’s crunch time defense and ability to control the ball, he did not fail to praise Stanford and give them their deserved credit.
“Let me give Stanford credit, they came in here and beat us tonight,”
This was Arizona’s third game of the week, fourth game in 10 days and Miller definitely thinks that played a factor in the team's recent practice performances and overall effort against Stanford.
“We’re beaten up, we’re playing three games in a week, playing four games in 10 days,” Miller said. “You don’t have a lot of time in between games to recuperate, to practice and get those repetitions in. In my mind, we looked like a team that wasn’t as ready as we needed to be.”
Arizona looks to bounce back Saturday afternoon when they face the ever so struggling Cal coming off one day of rest as well. This will be Arizona’s fifth game in 12 days, but welcome to the COVID-19 Pac-12 schedule.
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