One of the Arizona Wildcats' zone-busting mechanisms didn't work out Sunday, and that bothered Kevin Parrom.
Because it was him.
Arizona struggled earlier this season against the pesky zone defenses of Charleston Southern and Southern Miss but found some success by throwing Parrom into the middle of the zone. There, his toughness and passing ability helped keep UA's offense running.
The now-No. 9 Wildcats tried the same thing Sunday, when Cal pulled out a 3-2 matchup-like zone defense after halftime. They inserted Parrom less than three minutes into the second half, but he had three turnovers that led to five Cal points over a six-minute span as the Bears turned a 38-33 halftime deficit into a 50-40 lead.
"We haven't seen zone a lot," Parrom said. "But when we do see zone I'm supposed to be in the middle. I had three crucial turnovers and I usually don't turn the ball over, so I think I can play better in the middle of the zone."
Before and after Parrom entered the game, UA struggled to move the ball against Cal's zone, which featured Allen Crabbe out in front. The Cats missed eight of their first nine shots in the second half.
"It was disappointing watching how we moved the ball and how it knocked us on our heels because we are far into the season and we've seen a lot of different things," UA coach Sean Miller said. "Kevin's terrific in the middle of the zone. He's made so many good plays this year and, for whatever reason, he had a couple of turnovers that he normally doesn't have."
Another part of the problem, according to UA senior forward Solomon Hill, was that Cal's zone was different than those the Wildcats have faced so far.
"We really haven't run into a lot of 3-2 zones, and we just didn't pass the ball," Hill said. "We didn't get moving. Every shot we took, we kind of went one-(on)-one (and) shot, tried to beat your man instead of pass and kick. We didn't get a lot of that in the second half."
Cal is primarily a man-to-man team, but Miller said the Bears have played some zone and consequently the Wildcats prepared for it.
"We knew they could play it a little bit more," Miller said. "That's how they've played us in the past. (Against it) in the first four minutes of the second half we took bad shots."
The reason they took bad shots is a familiar one: a lack of passing, movement and patience.
"We were very stagnant," Hill said. "We didn't move. We played timid against the zone. It affected our offense and our scoring. (Crabbe) scored 31 in and we didn't match him on the defensive end."
Parrom is bracing for Colorado to pull out a zone defense Thursday at Boulder. And while the Buffaloes aren't known for playing zone, it might not be a bad idea to get ready.
No doubt CU is watching that Cal-UA game video. And even if the Buffs don't zone, Utah almost certainly will on Sunday in Salt Lake City because the Utes' zone had success against UA on Jan. 5 at McKale Center.
"I'm sure they're going to ready to throw zone at us," Parrom said of Colorado. "I gotta be ready."
• Crabbe was named the Pac-12's Player of the Week after scoring 31 points against the Wildcats on Sunday and also collecting 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists at ASU.
• The Cats moved down just two spots, to No. 9, in both major Top 25 polls after their loss to the Bears. UA has an RPI of 7 and is 14 in the Sagarin power ratings.
• Miller said he expected to have forward Grant Jerrett available the rest of the season after Jerrett managed 17 minutes against Cal while coming off a stress reaction in his left foot.
"We'll be careful with Grant," Miller said. "We'll be smart days in between (games), give him rest, and make sure if he says he has pain, that we do the right thing."
• What: No. 9 Arizona at Colorado
• When: 8 p.m. Thursday
• TV: Pac-12 Arizona
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
How UA fared against teams that use zones heavily:
• Nov. 11: Charleston Southern W, 82-73
Noteworthy: 25 assists, 8 turnovers, 34.4 percent three-point shooting.
• Dec. 4: Southern Miss W, 63-55
Noteworthy: 27 turnovers, 16 assists, 35-27 halftime deficit, 30- percent three-point shooting.
• Jan. 10: Oregon L, 70-66
Noteworthy: 11 assists, 14 turnovers, 41-30 halftime deficit, 43.9 percent three-point shooting.
• Jan. 5: Utah W 60-57
Noteworthy: 36.2 percent shooting, 9 assists, 9 turnovers, 34-30 second-half deficit
• Feb. 10: California L, 77-69
Noteworthy: 39.3 percent field goal shooting, 17-2 Cal run to start second half
Contact reporter Bruce Pascoe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4145. On Twitter @BrucePascoe