That doesn't mean there is not cause for concern, however. UA has problems that are consistent on a game-to-game basis and it was only a matter of time before it lost a game because of it.
Give credit to Oregon; they showed up and played tough basketball for 40 minutes. The Ducks successfully picked apart the Arizona defense and the Wildcats especially had trouble defending UO's three-point shooting, which is an area that has generally been on of Arizona's strengths under Sean Miller.
Arizona's problems have been habitual, but that doesn't mean they are not correctable. There aren't going to be many tougher games than what the Wildcats faced Thursday. If they can improve their play in the first half instead of falling into a double-digit hole, it will severely limit the opposition's chances to come away with a victory.
Their first loss truly taught UA what it needs to improve on if it wants to be a real contender in the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona looks out of control at times on offense and it has led to numerous unnecessary turnovers and bad shot attempts. Far too often does a player push the ball up the floor past his teammates and try to break down the defense by himself early in the shot clock. There are other moments where the team still stands along the perimeter passing the ball around, completely disregarding the added size the team lacked in past years.
The Wildcats have plenty of talent, but it's clear that 15 games in the team is still figuring out how to play together. Arizona has to find some cohesion and once it does it will be the toughest team to beat in the Pac-12.
The young big men are having trouble contributing consistently, but given that they are true freshmen, there should be some expected growth. For now, there has been some slight disappointment with the lack of offensive output from the freshman trio. Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski have all shown what they are capable of in spurts, but if they can develop consistency before March, UA is a much more dangerous squad.
Both Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons have been stellar overall, but they haven't been without their faults. Lyons' ability as a point guard has come into question with his low assist totals and his relatively high turnover average. Johnson, while a shooting guard, shares the same issues. They both make up for it in other areas, but most teams don't want their starting backcourt giving away possessions that often. With time, this area should steadily improve throughout the rest of the season as these two gain more experience together.
The first half
Mounting a comeback has become a regular occurrence for the Wildcats, but the problem is that it's not always going to result in a win. Once again, Arizona fell behind by double digits and was forced to make a late charge, but this time it wasn't enough.
As a senior, Hill is going to be one of the players that has to step up going forward. He has a history of improving as the season progresses and will have to continue playing how he has played in recent matchups. He is the team's most experienced contributor and has played in Miller's offense long enough to know how to operate within it. He was one of the only Wildcats who played efficiently throughout the majority of the contest against Oregon.
The second unit must produce more and it can't be just Kevin Parrom doing the work. The Wildcats must receive valuable contributions off the bench going forward if they want to beat the better opponents left on the schedule. The bench combined for 48 minutes of playing time, but produced just six total points and shot a collective 2-for-9 from the floor on Thursday.
The Arizona Wildcats will face the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday night. Read on to find out more…