LOS ANGELES – Frustrated by the way the Arizona Wildcats are playing these days?

You have company.

It’s bugging Derrick Williams, too.

Williams said he’s watched about 15 Arizona games on television or video recorder so far this season and he caught UA’s 89-78 loss at USC in person on Wednesday while his Timberwolves were in town to prepare for the Lakers on Thursday.

“It’s tough. Especially since I grew up with those guys in college and some of those guys I even knew before college," Williams said before the Lakers-Wolves game. “It's tough to see them lose, especially when I know they can win. They can play so much better.

“You win some, you lose some, but it’s how you respond to the next game.”

As a product of nearby La Mirada, Williams knows that playing in Los Angeles can be tough, too. He went 1-3 in regular season games in L.A. with the Wildcats, and 2-2 in the Pac-10 Tournament, including a season-ending quarterfinal loss to UCLA in 2010 and the overtime loss to Washington in the 2011 final.

“A lot of guys are from here and they want to play so well in front of families and friends,” Williams said. “I did that as well. You just want to play so well in front of your family and friends. (At USC), that’s pretty much what happened. They struggled pretty much the whole game.”


Of course it could all be better for the Wildcats if… Williams was playing his senior year for Arizona.

But that’s a road he isn’t going down. Not after jumping in as the No. 2 overall NBA Draft pick in 2011, and after taking advantage of extra playing time recently because of Kevin Love's broken hand (he has three 20/10 games in his last six played).

“I think everybody who leaves school early always gets that question asked,” Williams said. “But if you look back at it, I’d be a senior right now in college and I’m so much better than I was even in college.

"I think everyone who leaves college early looks at it one or two times, of why they’re playing in the NBA. But you really can’t look at it too much. That’s for fans to look at it like that.”


Meanwhile, Williams had 15 points and eight rebounds Thursday while playing a team-high 40 minutes for Minnesota, which has been hurt by frontcourt injuries.


Arizona didn’t get any help in the Pac-12 race Thursday:

-- Oregon beat OSU to stay in a loss-column tie with UCLA atop the Pac-12 standings. The Ducks and Bruins both have four losses, though both are on the road next weekend – Oregon in the Rockies, and UCLA in Washington.

Worth noting: The Ducks received Dominic Artis returned to the Ducks, but backup guard Damyean Dotson appeared to be lost with hip trouble, according to the Oregonian's report.

-- California put away Utah to stay tied with UA for third place. The Bears hold a tiebreaker over Arizona and have Colorado and Stanford left to play at home.


We took advantage of the extra day in Los Angeles to come up with a  feature on Williams, a look at the new Pauley Pavilion, and a breakdown of UA's defensive slide.


Ben Howland agrees with those who proclaimed the Bruins’ 2013 recruiting class the best in the nation, while both Shabazz Muhammad (ankle sprain) and Travis Wear (foot sprain) could be fine for Saturday’s UCLA-Arizona game.


And, just wondering, but could the following compilation of tweets from Jahii Carson’s mother shed light on the future of the Sun Devils’ standout guard?