Arizona lost to Cal on Sunday. Read on for news and notes on why the Wildcats could not get it done.
A poor start to the second half ultimately doomed Arizona
on Sunday night. The Wildcats held a five point lead and control of the game heading in to the break, but careless and sloppy play to start the second half allowed California
to take the lead and control of the game.
The Golden Bears were on fire offensively and were able to hold off the Wildcats down the stretch to pull off a 77-69 upset.
UA lost just its second home contest of the season and third game overall. With a chance to grab sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 over the weekend, Arizona wasn't up to the task while Cal played a much more inspired brand of basketball.
Led by the Pac-12's leading scorer, California came up with a victory that makes the conference race much more interesting than it was just a week ago.
Allen Crabbe was on fire – especially in the second half – and the Wildcats provided very little to counter his attack. The junior scored 31 points and shot 12-for-15 from the floor, including a perfect 8-for-8 inside the three-point line.
UA allowed Crabbe too many good looks at the basket in the first half and that really seemed to get his confidence going. The Pac-12's leading scorer was unstoppable down the stretch and dominated the Arizona defense in the process.
The Golden Bears, as a team, shot 58.8 percent for the contest, making it difficult for Arizona to pull off the comeback after Cal took the lead. In the second half, the Bears shot 65.2 percent (15-for-23) and connected on five out of seven attempts from beyond the arc during that time frame. Lights out shooting by California was the biggest contributing factor to Arizona's demise on Sunday.
The Wildcats' offense was moving fluidly in the first half and, while they didn't shoot great from the floor as a team, their efficiency on the offensive end of the floor enabled them to hold a significant advantage from the charity stripe in the first half. Over the final 20 minutes, however, UA knocked down just 11 out of 30 shot attempts, while shooting just 6-for-11 from the foul line.
California switched to a zone defense in the late moments of the first half and Arizona had trouble adjusting. The Wildcats were able to break down the Bears' defense close to the half, but came out lackadaisically to start the second half and came apart at the seams. UA's poor execution after halftime allowed Cal to open up a double digit lead rather quickly after trailing by seven just minutes prior.
Arizona was led by senior Mark Lyons, who scored 16 points, but struggled to locate open looks at the basket and uncharacteristically missed a couple of free throws. The starting guard concluded the night 5-of-14 from the field and seemed to struggle the close closer he got to the hoop. His shot from long range was excellent -- demonstrated by his 4-for-6 shooting display from behind the three-point line -- but from inside the arc, the senior knocked down just one field goal in eight attempts.
The Wildcats blew the game despite taking care of the ball and battling hard on the glass. With just nine turnovers as a team, UA played efficiently and moved the ball around relatively well. On the glass, Arizona grabbed 27 rebounds thanks to its big men's aggressiveness on the offensive glass, where the team pulled down 10 of its boards.
The Wildcats' ability to take care of the ball and fight for second chance opportunities really emphasizes how much poor shooting and the lack of offensive flow set the team back.
Three point shooting was actually one of the Wildcats' strengths on Sunday. They knocked down nine out of 18 attempts from beyond the arc and their long distance shooting was what set them apart from Cal in the first half.
In the second half when Cal predominantly played a zone defense, Arizona didn't seem to embrace its three-point shooting ability and took just eight attempts from long range against a style of defense that tends to allow open looks from deep.
Three point shooting may have been impressive for Arizona, but shooting from inside the arc was a completely different story. The Wildcats went 13-for-38 (34.2 percent) from two point range and missed on numerous looks close to the basket.