Seeing the Arizona Wildcats buried near the bottom of the Pac-12 standings is jarring enough. Seeing Arizona near the bottom of a bad Pac-12 — one of the worst Pac Twelves in recent memory — is even more startling. Finally, this Arizona team managed to break free from the chains of a seven-game losing streak. Ryan Luther brought the industrial-strength chain cutter.
Luther scored 19 points to help Arizona pull away from the California Golden Bears, 76-51, on Thursday night in the McKale Center. The blowout win in Tucson removed a large burden from an Arizona locker room which had become increasingly discouraged in the face of an extraordinarily rare downward spiral. The locals in Tucson hadn’t seen something like this since the early 1980s.
Everyone who cares about Arizona basketball can thank Luther’s scoring outburst for injecting a little relief into a very difficult season.
“He’s unselfish to a fault. Off the court, that’s awesome, but on the court his greatest weapon is his ability to shoot it on a team that doesn’t shoot well,” Wildcat coach Sean Miller said. “When he gives up an open 3 and makes one more pass to a player that has a worse percentage than him, it’s actually selfish, if you think about it. We need more players to shoot the ball like him.”
Arizona hopes that Luther and other players can get hot in the Pac-12 Tournament. Arizona will play in the first round. If it can get through that opening game, it would face a top-four seed in the quarterfinals. Are the Wildcats ready to play spoiler in Las Vegas? Luther might contain the answer to that question.
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