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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“Arizona vs. USC basketball: Trap game claims victim of lost, unfocused Wildcats”

LOS ANGELES — Save the net cutting for next week.

Save the celebration for McKale Center. Save it for the ZonaZoo to rush the court and storm all the way to Gentle Ben’s for 4-for-1 drink specials commemorating Arizona’s first Pacific 10 Conference title since the 2004-05 season.

Because last night, there were no drinks — just dry heaving. No. 10 Arizona choked to a mediocre Southern California, losing 65-57 in the palace that Kevin O’Neill is building.

Arizona would’ve lost to Caltech last night. Both teams tried their best to lose but somebody had to win, especially in front of A-list NBA scouts and players.

Clippers stud Blake Griffin sat courtside to support either his hometown fourth-place Trojans or fellow upcoming top-5 NBA Lottery pick named Derrick Williams — Arizona’s stud with Griffin-caliber dunking power.

Williams finished 3-for-11 from the floor and scored a season-low eight points last night.

“”I’m not Superman,”” Derrick Williams said. “”I’m not Blake Griffin.””

But did you see Griffin?

“”Yeah it was pretty cool having them come out here and show a little support,”” Williams said. “”Just gotta play the game no matter who’s in the crowd. Michael Jordan, NBA scouts.””

The Michael Jordan reference could’ve been a jab back at O’Neill in a comment he made earlier this week, when he called Williams “”the most protected dude I’ve seen since Michael Jordan. If the guy walks across the court, it’s a foul.””

Maybe O’Neill got in Williams’ head. After all, USC gave away O’Neill bobbleheads to the first 2,000 fans in the Galen Center.

Just imagine 2,000 O’Neills nodding up and down at the game plan he built around Williams.

Up and down. But mostly down.

“”I’m not always going to save the day,”” Williams said. “”I’m not always going to play well. I’ll take a lot of the blame for that.””

Aside from a crew of family and friends from nearby La Mirada, Calif., Williams brought a slue of NBA scouts along with national media to Los Angeles to watch a suddenly top-10 basketball team riding an eight-game winning streak.

Riding the high of last weekend’s whiteout win against Washington, this had all the makings of a trap game.

“”I think it was good for us to lose,”” Williams said. “”We were getting too big headed. I’m kinda glad we lost and come down to earth, everyone. We were just getting too hot headed. I’m just glad we lost.””

UA forward Jesse Perry added: “”I guess with the rankings and winning, everything was moving so fast. It could be kind of distracting. For a lot of guys it was. We just didn’t come out as a team today.””

The game ended to chants of “”over-rated!”” Williams stood hunched over and just smiled.

By that time the row of scouts had already left, probably halfway down the freeway to San Diego for Jimmer Fredette vs. San Diego State tonight.

The national spotlight has briefly passed, but Arizona still fully expects to return — starting tomorrow in a battle for first place in the Pac-10.

“”We want to cut down the nets,”” Perry said.


— Bryan Roy is an interdisciplinary studies senior. He can be reached at

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