The sun rises in the east.
I’m not going to lie. I didn’t see that one coming. At all. This is why sports in general and college sports in particular are so great. Sometimes logic says one thing but reality gives you just the opposite.
Sometimes the twist kicks you in the gut (“There’s no way Nebraska has enough offense to blow out Arizona!”) and sometimes it gives you a very pleasant surprise (“There’s no way the red hot, experienced team playing smothering defense gets blown out by an inconsistent young team that doesn’t defend anyone!”).
The “disciplined” team settled for jumpers all night. The “out-of-control” team attacked the lane and played inside-out.
Spring follows winter.
Sean Miller just earned a lot more bonus points. He took full advantage of the “bye week” and devised a plan to dissect ASU’s stingy zone.
At the start of the game the Cats fell into the trap of trying to beat the zone by passing around the perimeter and jacking up threes. Things turned around when they began getting the ball into the middle with dribble penetration and passes to the high post.
What it shows is we have a coach smart enough to come up with a successful gameplan, and good enough to get his point across mid-game. It also means we have players smart enough and good enough to listen to coaching and implement it. It all adds up to a lot of optimism about the long-term future.
Two key moments in the ASU game: The Sun Devils scored the first basket of the second half to go up by four. The two subsequent Devil possessions ended in good looks from behind the arc but Glasser and Kuksiks both missed. ASU wasn’t able to extend their lead and the UA ended up scoring the next 12 points.
The other turning point came with 8:03 left. The Cats were up ten when Horne hit a three followed by Fogg and Williams converting fast-break layups off of steals. In just one minute and one second of game time the lead had ballooned to 17 and the party had started in the upper deck.
Water flows downhill.
Just like that, ASU’s five-game win streak over Arizona was gone. The Devils didn’t even have a chance to start referring to it with a capital S. Before anyone starts boasting about five-out-of-six remember that Lute had an 11+ game winning streak against ASU three different times. You’ve got a ways to go, Sparky.
Arizona State’s longest streak against the Cats in the Pac-10 era was nine wins from 1979-’83. That streak ended with Lute Olson’s first game against the Devils. Coincidence? Coach O going 5-0, 16-1, and 43-6 says no.
ASU’s current winning streak ended with Sean Miller’s first rivalry game. Coincidence?
More happy stats:
The home team went 4-1 in Pac-10 play this past Saturday.
The Wildcats are above .500 for the first time since we were 3-2.
That was our third Pac-10 road win. The UA only had two all of last year and four the year before.
Lost in the Kevin Parrom: Good Hard Foul or Dirty Play? debate is the fact that Parrom led the Cats in rebounding even though he only played 20 minutes. In his last four games he’s averaging 5.5 boards a game as a wing. That’s a guy who wants to rebound.
Maybe Kevin just wanted to provide a visual interpretation of “Hit ‘em hard, let ‘em know who’s who.” (Although, the same could be said about the alternate version of that line from the fight song.)
Cream rises to the top.
As this team continues to develop its identity you have to like the mix of skilled West Coast players (20 points for Derrick Williams and four assists for Solomon Hill) and East Coast tough guys. Is Miller working on the perfect combination?
Right after the game Sean starting working on managing expectations again. He was quick to point out that this one excellent win doesn’t guarantee the start of a long win streak. The team that couldn’t hold a lead against Oregon State is still lurking.
If only every game could be played on the weekend. The Cats are now 4-0 in the Saturday/Sunday portion of their Pac-10 schedule. The Cal Bears should be very afraid of their matchup in Tucson this Sunday.
But Thursday still comes first. The UA’s next chance to win a season-long third consecutive game comes against a Stanford team still looking for its first Pac-10 road win. The Wildcats are looking to take another step forward and play with some consistency instead of just posting a single (albeit order-restoring) win in Tempe.
And Arizona Basketball beats Arizona State.