After a loss like this you don’t know where to begin, so you just begin.
It’s not so much that the Arizona Wildcats lost to Arizona State…
Actually, that’s not true. It is that the Cats lost to ASU.
Granted, the UA isn’t “Arizona good” this year but the Sun Devils are really bad. Tenth-place-in-a-horrible-conference bad. Three-hundred-twentieth-in-the-nation-in-scoring bad. Eight-points-in-a-half-just-three-games-ago bad. ¡Ocho puntos!
If you consider ASU’s 20 losses this is the worst Devil team to beat Arizona since 1967 when a 5-21 squad split two games with the 8-17 Wildcats.
So losing to this team in any way, shape or form is stunning. But if it was going to happen it was supposed to be like this: Start slowly, brick a bunch of 3s, get into foul trouble and lose an ugly 56-54 game.
But like this? A track meet? A shooting contest?
ASU hadn’t broken 70 in eight games, hadn’t hit 80 since Thanksgiving and hadn’t scored this many points in 26 months.
What was harder to comprehend, Arizona’s defense failing or ASU’s offense succeeding?
[WARNING! More mind-numbing stats approaching! Scroll past if in the vicinity of sharp objects!]
Arizona is 1st in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense (40%). ASU shot 56% on Sunday.
Arizona is 1st in the Pac-12 in 3-point field goal defense (27%). ASU shot 58% from behind the arc.
ASU is 8th in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (67%). ASU shot 92% from the line.
It all added up to the Sun Devils besting their season scoring average by 27 points. Words like “unbelievable” don’t seem strong enough.
There are comparisons to the 2011 Territorial Cup and, yes, 4-8 is equal to 10-20, but that Sun Devil football team was a mess. Dennis Erickson had them working on a five-game losing streak and sharpening his own guillotine. This UA basketball team was on a 7-1 run since the start of February.
After a month of dancing on the razor’s edge the Wildcats are now bleeding all over the floor.
What now? I was still going to root against the other bubble teams this week (because March only comes once a year) but then I saw that Oregon is still projected as out of the tournament. The Ducks’ resume is superior to Arizona’s across the board so if Oregon still isn’t in a couple more wins against fellow Pac-12 teams aren’t going to do anything for the Wildcats’ at-large chances.
Win-or-go-home time starts early.
It’s not a fun place to be. When these Cats decided to win five straight between the two Washington losses, the stakes were raised. Now they’re raised all-in.
I am going to dive in and hope for the best in the Pac-12 tournament. It’s already going to be disappointing if this team doesn’t get into the Big Dance. Forcing the hopes up for another few days isn’t going to make it worse.
Root for UCLA to lose on Wednesday, or at least get pushed to the limit. Root like crazy for the Cats to win on Thursday. Root for Washington to lose its first game.
After a loss like this you don’t know where to end either, so…
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