Whenever Arizona struggles, someone tends to step up and carry the team or it completely outplays the opposition in a key area. A little of both happened Saturday, but the Wildcats must figure out how to avoid putting themselves in tight situations down the stretch of ballgames because it is going to catch up to them later in the season against stronger opponents, especially on the road.
Regardless of how close the game was, Arizona still maintained its undefeated record and is continuously finding ways to come out on top. In another close ballgame, several factors allowed the Utes to keep it close, but it wasn't enough to propel them to an upset victory.
Solomon Hill: The senior led the team in scoring and provided shooting efficiency that most teammates lacked throughout the contest. Arizona shot poorly as a team, but Hill was a bright spot offensively. Known for his ability to contribute in a variety of ways, Hill did it this time by putting points on the board, which was exactly what UA needed.
Brandon Ashley: The freshman was the only other Wildcat to shoot above 50 percent for the contest and was the lone big man to make a significant contribution offensively. Ashley is the most refined offensive player of the three freshman big men and he even displayed his range by knocking down a shot from beyond the arc. Ashley's impact was huge considering Arizona struggled connecting on shots throughout the entire contest.
Rebounding: 18 offensive rebounds is a great sign and freshman Kaleb Tarczewski made his presence felt on the boards. The center led Arizona with nine boards while Parrom was second on the squad with eight. Arizona has rebounded the ball with more consistency and success in recent games and it's been one of the biggest reasons the Wildcats have been able to pull off close games.
Focus: While Arizona seems to lock in when it matters most – and a lot of it has to do with senior leadership – there have been times where the Wildcats seem to lose track of the game itself and allowed the opposition to stay close. When this has occurred against stronger opponents, those teams have been able to build sizable leads. Either way, UA must focus for a full 40 minutes or it will find itself in close affairs consistently.
Intensity: Arizona must find a happy median. At times, the offensive pace seems a bit too fast and the team plays a bit out of control. At others, the Wildcats look a bit lackadaisical and settle for the outside shot far too often for a team with their size in the middle. In their defense, they seem to figure it out in the final minutes of the game, but ideally they would like to figure it out much sooner in the contest.
Bench play: On one end, there is Kevin Parrom; one of the best sixth men in the nation. On the other, there has been inconsistent production from the rest of the bench. Grant Jerrett has had his moments, but is still trying to discover his game at the college level. Everyone else is struggling and Saturday's game showed that. Outside of Parrom, the bench's impact was limited.
Turnovers: The Wildcats have improved in this category as the season has progressed. Utah scored just two points off of turnovers Saturday as Arizona lost possession just nine times.