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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Boomer bummer

NORMAN, Okla. — There are many excuses the Arizona men’s basketball team could make for Sunday night’s loss against Oklahoma.

First true road game, turnovers, youth and inexperience come to mind.

But there were a few other reasons for the Wildcats’ 79-62 loss to the Sooners during the Big 12/Pacific 10 Conference Hardwood Series on Sunday evening.

“”It’s confidence, it’s togetherness, it’s toughness,”” said UA head coach Sean Miller. “”It’s players that have been there before, as we don’t have a lot of them.””

Added UA senior Nic Wise, who scored a team-high 15 points in the Lloyd Noble Center: “”Coach was just trying to find guys’ hearts.””

The loss gave Miller his first true road loss as the Wildcats’ head coach. No UA head coach has won his first true road game since Walter Davis led the Wildcats to a 40-17 road win at ASU in 1925.

Miller is Arizona’s fourth head coach in as many years.

“”We’re very much a work in progress, and being the fourth coach in four years really kind of stands out in an environment like this,”” Miller said.

Arizona (3-4), which suffered its biggest loss since being downed by Louisville in the Sweet 16 last March, 103-64, was plagued by turnovers and spotty shooting in the first half. The trend continued to spill over into the second half.

The Sooners (5-3) caused nine Arizona turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, while having only one possession miscue themselves. The Wildcats finished with 17 turnovers; Oklahoma had just seven.

The Wildcats made 44 percent (22-for-50) of their shots from the field, while Oklahoma shot slightly better at 48 percent (26-for-54).

“”I think guys were just seriously convinced that they couldn’t do what we do,”” said UA forward Jamelle Horne. “”That’s what we say in the locker room: ‘Do what we do.’

“”It seemed like there were guys that didn’t want to move,”” Horne added. “”It wasn’t so much pressure. We faced Vanderbilt, UNLV — high-pressure teams. It just seemed as though tonight, guys just didn’t want to buy in.””

Oklahoma took a 13-7 advantage just more than five minutes into the game, with eight points coming from Sooner guard Willie Warren, who went on to score a game-high 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting.

Sooners freshman Tiny Gallon, who played at Oak Hill Academy with UA freshman Momo Jones, chipped in 14 points.

The Sooners never looked back. They went on to lead by as many as 26 points with 14:23 left.

Horne, one of the team’s two upperclassmen, said the Wildcats can’t make any excuses for their lackluster play.

“”You can’t get punched in the mouth,”” Horne said. “”We have a lot of guys that (are) labeled as freshmen, but we’ve got a ton of guys that are capable of doing a lot of great things on the floor.””

Arizona went into halftime down 44-26 after shooting just 33 percent (9-of-27) from the field. Miller said he noticed a dejected team at that point.

“”Sometimes when you lose, confidence starts to become part of the problem,”” Miller said. “”When I looked at our team in the first half, I saw some guys that, quite frankly, had that look that as a coach you say ‘uh-oh.'””

Miller used various lineups in the second half, looking for something that worked. Arizona ended on a 7-0 run, with all points scored by guard Garland Judkins. But at that point, it didn’t matter.

“”It was tough, the number of points we were down,”” Miller said. “”It was never a game.””

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