Pac-12 After the Buzzer: Panic in Tucson?Posted by Connor Pelton on October 28th, 2011
The Lede. In the “Did that just happen” category, we have the Seattle Pacific Falcons, who promptly marched into the McKale Center on Thursday night and stunned the Arizona Wildcats, 69-68, in the first Pac-12 exhibition game of the season. This wasn’t your usual “LeMoyne over Syracuse” upset, where a D-II team gets very lucky and catches multiple breaks. The Falcons came in with an excellent game plan, executed it to perfection, and just flat out-played the Cats for 40 minutes. SPU understandably came out tight, with the Wildcats scoring the first six points of the game and the Falcons not making a basket until Jobi Wall put home a three two and a half minutes in. From there until the final ten minutes of the SECOND half, it was all Falcons, building up a thirteen-point advantage that they would hold on to for most of the game.
Arizona would finally regain the lead at 63-61 with 4:03 left, but Wall put the Falcons back on top with a layup two minutes later. The last minute of the game was absolute nuts, beginning with Arizona’s Solomon Hill bringing the Cats to within three with a free throw with 23 seconds remaining. After an SPU miss on the free throw line, Arizona pulled within one on a layup with five seconds to go. The inbounds pass would then be intercepted at half court, but a desperation three at the buzzer by the freshman Nick Johnson would fall short, clinching the surprising one-point victory for the Falcons.
Boy Would I Hate to be Those Guys. What’s worse than losing to a D-II team when you come into the season ranked in the Top 25? Having to fly to Los Angeles right after the game with a day full of media members staring you in the face. That’s the reality for coach Sean Miller and senior guard Kyle Fogg, who instead of answering questions about expectations for the season, will have to deal with a lot of “what happened last night?”s
What Went Wrong? The Wildcats had trouble defending a relatively new concept in basketball, the backdoor pass. No one can really blame them for not knowing how to defend it since it is so new. However, the real problem could come in Pac-12 play when they meet Oregon State, a team that has twice the talent of Seattle Pacific and can run the backdoor cut to perfection.
Does It Matter? If the team sits down over the weekend, dissects everything it did wrong and fixes all of the problems, no, it does not matter. But if these same patterns creep into their play at crucial times throughout the year, this young team could struggle mightily. Something tells us, though, that Sean Miller will figure it out.
Up Next. The Wildcats will try their hands at a lesser D-II opponent, the Humboldt State Lumberjacks. That game (another exhibition) will be on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 PM PT. Seattle Pacific will take the court next Friday night at Bank of America Arena in Seattle against the Washington Huskies. That game (also an exhibition) is scheduled for a 7:00 PM tip.