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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Close defeats harper team down stretch

Arizona+guard+Gabe+York+%281%29+dunks+in+Haas+Pavilion+in+Berkeley%2C+California+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+23.+The+Wildcats+lost+to+California+73-72+in+heartbreaking+fashion+on+a+missed+layup+as+time+expired.+
Sydney Richardson
Arizona guard Gabe York (1) dunks in Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California on Saturday, Jan. 23. The Wildcats lost to California 73-72 in heartbreaking fashion on a missed layup as time expired.

If it feels like Arizona men’s basketball suffers down-to-the-wire losses at a disproportionate rate, you’re not wrong.

Over the past two and a half seasons, the Wildcats have lost 13 games by a total of 43 points, according to math performed by Dan Dickey of hoopsnerd.com.

That averages out to a 3.3-point margin of defeat per loss.

In the same two and a half year span, no other team in the nation has come close to suffering as many close losses.

Whereas Arizona stands at a -43 scoring margin in losses since the start of the 2013-2014 season, the next closest team, Wichita State, suffers a -83 margin in that frame.

This season, all four of Arizona’s losses have come within four points.

The UA’s loss to California on Saturday was perhaps the most heart-breaking of any of Arizona’s defeats this season, considering the Wildcats came back from a nine-point second half deficit and were a Gabe York layup away from winning.

After the game, Arizona head coach Sean Miller rationalized the close defeat as a game in which Cal outworked the Wildcats on a few key possessions.

“There was too many times where their hustle and hard play really separated them from us,” Miller said. “There were two or three hustle plays in the second half where we were competing at a frenetic pace, and when they came up with it, they converted.”

In order for the Wildcats to pull off the win, Miller said the team would have needed to play a “terrific game.”

Instead, “we just played a good game,” Miller said.

Cal coach offers praise of Arizona program

Cal men’s basketball head coach Cuonzo Martin danced in the locker room following the Golden Bears’ gold-out victory. That’s how much a win over a marquee program like Arizona means to Martin and his team.

The Golden Bears are no slouches, considering they have a few future NBA lottery picks on their team. But it takes more than one group of talented players to solidify a program among the nation’s best.

One day, Cuonzo Martin said, he’d like to see Cal reach the level of consistency displayed by Arizona.

“We beat a very talented program who I believe is one of the top programs in the country,” Martin said. “We hope to be that one day, but it takes time.”

Should Pac-12 receive more hype?

Arizona freshman Justin Simon has only played in seven Pac-12 Conference games, but the guard has seen enough of the league to judge its level of play.

“The Pac-12 is the most underrated conference, I think,” Simon said after the Wildcats’ loss to Cal. “Cal’s a great team; I think we’re a great team. You never know who is going to come out and play.”

While the conference doesn’t have any elite teams like in years past, the league’s depth and parity has improved considerably this season.

Four weeks in, 10 of the league’s 12 teams are still in realistic contention to win the regular season title.

Not bad.

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