Home away from home
For the second time in two games, Arizona fans took over an opposing gym.
Much like they did at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night, Wildcat faithful exploded with loud “U of A” chants, the first one in Sunday’s 73-53 win over USC coming off a Brandon Ashley dunk at the 16:16 mark of the first half.
With the Wildcats ranked No. 1 in the country, fans have come out in full force for Arizona.
“I don’t think the fact we’re No. 1 has anything to do with it, honestly; it was like that when we played Duke in New York,” Ashley said. “We travel really well and we have some amazing fans.”
USC fans matched some of the intensity on the last play of the first half, as Pe’Shon Howard dropped in a reverse layup as the clock expired to cut the UA halftime lead to 34-31.
But by the time Arizona lengthened its lead to 20, fans were chanting “U of A” once more.
“It’s fantastic; we have some of the best fans in college basketball,” Wildcats coach Sean Miller said. “Especially in an arena like here, when it’s not always filled, it makes it a lot better for us. It’s not a hostile environment. I’d say 30 percent of the people here, if not more, were Arizona fans.”
Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak again took in an Arizona game for the second time over the weekend.
Kupchak, whose injury-riddled Lakers appear headed to a high pick in the NBA draft, was at Galen Center on Sunday night after being one of several NBA general managers to attend Arizona’s 79-75 win over UCLA on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.
Despite producing 65 draft picks, the Wildcats haven’t been shown much love from the Lakers historically — Luke Walton (2003, 32nd pick) remains the only UA player to be selected by the Lakers, but they did trade for ex-Wildcat Jordan Hill.
Working on the Sabbath
The Trojans have made it a habit of working on Sunday.
Sunday marked their sixth consecutive matchup on the day of rest, but things are trended downward.
After winning the first six of the streak, which started on Dec. 8, USC has now lost consecutive Sunday games, to UCLA and Arizona.
43.3 Both teams shot the same from the field in the first half, 43.3 percent, on 13-of-30 shooting. Arizona claimed a three-point halftime lead, however, on the strength of two additional three-pointers and an extra free throw.
The popular act of wielding giant faces was not forgotten by USC fans, and their choices were quite funny.
The best: Will Ferrell, right next to a crying Kim Kardashian and an angry Kim Jong Un.
Tweet of the night
“T.J. McConnell may be going for his best offensive game at Arizona tonight. already two three balls for him. 8 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound.” — @CodyJamesMartin