Saturday's performance by Arizona's freshmen may have been their best collective effort to date.…
A look back: Arizona vs. Oregon State
Arizona capped off its road trip to Oregon with a victory over Oregon State on Saturday and it was a bounce-back performance from its loss to the Ducks on Saturday. The game was tight for much of the first half, but the Wildcats found their comfort zone shortly before halftime and gained command of the contest. After struggling through a game in Eugene that featured sloppy play and weak perimeter defense, UA put together its best game in conference play since the Pac-12 schedule began. There is plenty to build on from the victory and if UA can continue to progress, there should be more results like the one the Wildcats came away with on Saturday. Efficient backcourt play: The duo of Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson committed eight turnovers between them against Oregon on Thursday, but did a much better job taking care of the ball and getting teammates involved against the Beavers. The starting backcourt committed a combined three turnovers while dishing out 10 assists between them. Both players were able to dribble between defenders and pass the ball effectively without having the play disrupted or coughing the ball up too often. While there are plenty of other obvious problems for the Wildcats, the turnovers from the starting backcourt against Oregon were a bit alarming. Putting together more performances like the pair did on Saturday will lead to many more comfortable victories and fewer large deficits. Three-point defense: UA has struggled this season defending the perimeter, but OSU didn't shoot well from beyond the arc against the Wildcats. Arizona held the Beavers to 33 percent from behind the three point line and made sure they got few good looks at the basket from long range. UA's put pressure on Oregon State's shooters and made their night extremely difficult. Post defense: The Wildcats blocked nine shots as a team with six of them coming from freshman reserve Grant Jerrett. The freshman big men have all shown signs of developing, despite the criticism that has been generated in their direction at times. Jerrett showed another area where he can thrive if he continues to progress, as his shooting defense was crucial on Saturday. Solomon Hill's outside shooting: Hill was in a zone on Saturday from long range and it would be a huge boost for Arizona if that type of shooting continued from the senior. His shooting range has improved over his time in college and his game from the outside can be hard to stop if he gets into any sort of rhythm. The senior turned the ball over when he was over-assertive in the first half, but he decided to do his damage from the outside and it helped the Wildcats more in the long run. Freshman contribution: On top of Jerrett's six blocks, he also added eight points, five rebounds, and collected a steal. Fellow freshman big man Brandon Ashley scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds, putting together one of his better overall performances this season. Even Kaleb Tarczewski showed signs of progression with five rebounds in 22 minutes of action and also connected on all three of his foul shot attempts. The contributions of the first-year players are a necessity for this team to thrive throughout the rest of conference play and Saturday night was a good stepping stone for the youngsters. Composure: After losing its first game of the season, Arizona came out and looked like a squad with something to prove. While the game certainly wasn't a blowout, UA never let the Beavers feel like they had control of the game at any point in the contest. The Wildcats asserted their style of play on both ends of the floor rather than sitting back and reacting to what OSU proposed. Any time Oregon State tried to make a run in the second half, UA quickly put the clamp down and stayed in control of the contest.
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