Friday, January 31, 2014
Weekend Homework: Arizona on the road
By Myron Medcalf
If there are any weaknesses on this Arizona roster -- and there are few -- then they can all be summed up like this: Sometimes even the best have bad nights, especially on the road.
That's the only legitimate explanation for what happened to No. 1 Arizona in its occasionally turbulent outing against Stanford. Utah gave the Wildcats trouble at home before that. Both teams pushed the Wildcats. Somehow.
Well, it's not the only explanation. In Arizona's 65-56 victory over Utah last Sunday, the Wildcats made only three of their 14 3-point attempts. Freshman star Aaron Gordon struggled in a 3-for-13 outing. He went 2-for-10 in a 60-57 victory over Stanford on Wednesday. The team missed 11 of 29 free throws.
But the Wildcats held on both nights.
The challenges, however, solidified what we all know about conference play. Regardless of the league, it's never easy. It's never a breeze. From the Missouri Valley to the Big 12, playing 16 or 18 games against familiar foes creates pitfalls at some point in the year, even for elite teams.
So it's not prudent to overlook Arizona's next test, a road game at Cal on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network). The Bears are spiraling downward, locked in a three-game losing skid with the No. 1 team in the country coming to town. That's not good. But they're desperate.
And Justin Cobbs (15.5 points per game, 6.0 assists per game) could have a big night. Maybe the Cal team that scored 96 on a ranked Oregon squad will show up.
Considering their recent efforts, however, that's unlikely. In reality, the Bears would need a near-perfect game to beat Arizona.