Pac-12 ATB: Arizona is Back!Posted by Connor Pelton on November 18th, 2011
The Lede. After a loss against Seattle Pacific and mediocre performances in the their other four games, the Wildcats had a big question mark above their heads going into last night’s meeting with St. John’s. Arizona answered most of those questions in its 81-72 victory over the Red Storm on Thursday. Sparked by junior guard Kevin Parrom, playing in his first game after being shot below the knee two months ago, the Wildcats blistered Steve Lavin’s team from behind the three-point line. The Wildcats also flustered the SJU offense all night by stealing the ball seven times, all of which led to some kind of fast break for the Cats.
Despite their hot shooting and tenacious defense, the Red Storm did have many chances to win this one. Leading 68-67 with 4:45 remaining, Phil Greene missed a point blank layup that would have put SJU up by three. From there the Wildcats would cruise to a victory as they closed the game on a 14-2 run.
Meanwhile… For the third straight night, a Pac-12 team lost to a team from a mid-major/low-major conference. The big game included USC, who had to fight all night in Viejas Arena just to keep it close with San Diego State. With seven seconds remaining, the Trojans were able to even the game at 54-all on one of the luckiest shots in basketball history, a three point-bank shot by guard Maurice Jones. It would go for naught though, as San Diego State sophomore guard Xavier Thames took the ensuing inbounds pass the length of the floor for the go-ahead layup. With 1.9 seconds remaining on the clock, USC’s desperation pass would roll out of bounds as the buzzer sounded.
The Pac-12’s second loss last night was more understandable, but frustrating nonetheless. Colorado lost 67-58 to Wichita State on Thursday afternoon, dropping the Buffs into the consolation bracket at the Puerto Rico Tipoff. These two losses dropped the Pac-12 to 21-7 against non-power conference schools, an absolutely terrible record considering how early it is in the season.
Today. Usually Fridays tend to be boring in college hoops, but there will be three solid afternoon/early evening matchups to keep you happy. At 3:30 PM PST, Arizona will meet Mississippi State in the 2k Sports Classic championship game at Madison Square Garden in New York. At the same time will be Maryland-Colorado in the Puerto Rico Tipoff consolation bracket. Both teams are very evenly matched and are coming off tough losses the day before, so it will be interesting to see how they react. At 5:30 PM, Arizona State will try to avoid another bad loss when they take on a very good New Mexico team. If this one was in The Pit I think the Lobos would win in a blowout, but since it’s in Tempe the game should be a close one.