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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats’ loss tough to face

    The entire Arizona bench is a picture of dejection in the closing moments of their seven-point loss to USC last night in Los Angeles.
    The entire Arizona bench is a picture of dejection in the closing moments of their seven-point loss to USC last night in Los Angeles.

    Arizona 70, USC 77

    Los Angeles – It was not the homecoming that senior guard and Los Angeles native Hassan Adams would have liked. Adams scored a season-low nine points and turned the ball over a season-high seven times as the Wildcats fell again to Southern California (15-6, 6-4 Pacific 10 Conference) at the Sports Arena, 77-70.

    “”It’s a big disappointment,”” Adams said. “”We wanted to come and get us a ‘W,’ but we couldn’t do nothing right, just with everything: The shots, turnovers, everything was just not going our way.””

    While Adams couldn’t get a handle on the ball, neither could his teammates, as the Trojans forced 22 Wildcat miscues, another season high for Arizona (13-8, 6-4). On the other side of the ball, Arizona lacked the defensive pressure it showed during the beginning of the season and made USC turn the ball over just 12 times.

    With USC leading 59-56, the Wildcats were especially abysmal handling the ball, as the two leaders – junior point guard Mustafa Shakur and Adams – turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, each leading to an easy layup for USC junior guard Lodrick Stewart, who scored 17 points.

    Stewart, along with sophomore guards Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt, accounted for 63 of USC’s 77 points, totaling 81.8 percent.

    “”Three dudes beat us tonight,”” freshman forward Marcus Williams said. “”That can’t happen.

    “”Our defense has been slipping,”” he added.

    Arizona trailed 71-66 and was still in the game with 29 seconds left when USC turned the ball over on an inbounds pass. Shakur took the ball out of bounds but called a timeout when he couldn’t put the ball in play.

    The problem was, the Wildcats were out of timeouts and USC marched to the free throw line after a technical foul was called on Shakur.

    “”Just a very, very big mental error, something I’ve never done before, but you can’t take it back,”” Shakur said.

    The Wildcats outrebounded USC 45-30 but lost 16 possessions and took the same amount of shots, 62, as the Trojans.

    “”We were still able to win because we forced turnovers,”” USC head coach Tim Floyd said.

    Arizona shot 46.8 percent on the night and took just 10 3-pointers – something Arizona head coach Lute Olson was not disappointed with. He was, however, obviously not happy with the lack of execution offensively.

    “”The stats tell the story,”” Olson said. “”We had two of our veterans make the turnovers.””

    “”We need to do a better job of sharing the ball,”” he added.

    Junior forward Ivan Radenovic may have been the lone bright spot, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while not taking one 3-pointer. Williams led the Wildcats in scoring with 17.

    “”It’s very, very frustrating,”” Shakur said. “”We keep having games like that where we do two things well in two categories and the other three categories, we’re terrible.””

    In the second half, USC took a 42-35 lead, their biggest of the game, but Arizona rallied. Williams put back a Shakur missed layup and Adams made a no-look pass to Onobun for an easy bucket on the next possession. Junior center Kirk Walters’ block then led to a Williams 3-pointer, tying the score at 42.

    Freshman point guard Ryan Francis then scored back-to-back layups to put USC up four. The Wildcats never led in the second half.

    “”We just constantly let them run their stuff,”” Williams said.

    Arizona started out the game making their first three shots, the first two on a jump hook and a jump shot by Radenovic. Williams then followed with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

    The Trojans answered back in a hurry on two easy buckets by Pruitt and a 3-pointer by Stewart.

    Junior center Kirk Walters made a layup as time expired in the first half tied the game at 30.

    USC had 22 fast break points to Arizona’s four and scored 24 points off turnovers.

    “”SC deserved to win,”” Olson said. “”They played hard the whole time and those steals just kill you.””

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