Sean Miller said the story against Cal was probably more about how Arizona couldn’t guard the Bears more than anything the Wildcats were struggling with offensively.
But the Wildcats did put on a troubling display against the Cal defense in the early second half that was reminiscent of how they struggled with zones early in the season.
“That zone messed us up,” forward Brandon Ashley said. “When we came out in the second half, we were stagnant. We took bad shots. We got run out.”
Cal is primarily a man-to-man team, but Miller said the Bears have played some zone and consequently the Wildcats prepared to see it. But once it did happen, UA still looked initially flustered against 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 detail of why they took bad shots is a familiar one: A lack of passing and patience that could have resulted in better ones.
“We just let the zone affect us,” Hill said. “We were very stagnant. 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.”
The UA offensive stats in the second half: The Wildcats shot 36.7-percent, had six assists to five turnovers and made 6 of 11 free throws.
Miller said the poor free-throw shooting made a big difference, though he was glad that the Wildcats had only nine total turnovers as he dissected some of the box score numbers.
“We’ve done far worse than 13 assists and nine turnovers,” Miller said of the UA totals. “We’ve done far worse many time this year and when you can get to the foul line with 24 times and nine turnovers -- those two things are pretty good. We were 9 for 18 from three. So if you’re 9 of 18 three with nine turnovers…
"I gotta tell you 30 for 51 (Cal’s shooting) is about a big a punch as you’re going to take on defense. You look at those numbers … that’s astonishing. I think the story was probably about more how we couldn’t guard them then at the ineffectiveness of our offense.”
Miller said it was also tough offensively for Arizona that when it did get down, players were trying too hard to make things happen.
While UA did only have nine turnovers, three of them came from Kevin Parrom, who has been mostly reliable in the middle of zone defenses. Parrom’s offensive play was one reason the Wildcats had been better against zones until tonight.
“We haven’t seen zone a lot, but when we do see zone, I’m supposed to be in the middle,” Parrom said. “And I had three crucial turnovers. I usually don’t turn the ball over so I think I can play better in the middle of the zone.”
One bright spot for UA: That reserve forward Grant Jerrett played 17 minutes after missing last Wednesday’s Arizona-Stanford game with 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, make sure if he says he has pain that we do the right thing. But we look at him being with us all the way to the end.”
During the second half of the game, the Pac-12’s website standings showed UA at 21-2 overall and 9-2 in conference games and Cal at 13-10 and 5-6 – as if the Wildcats had already won.
But the standings have since been corrected and now list UA, UCLA and Oregon in a first-place tie at 8-3. As of today, UA would be the No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, because Oregon has beaten both teams and UCLA beat UA.
Here's the official box score.
Our full coverage will be posted at midnight.