The Arizona Wildcats hung in with the Mississippi State Bulldogs for 30 minutes of play. UA was finding open shots, rebounding relatively well and avoided the silly turnovers that had plagued them throughout most of the year. And despite never claiming a lead, you still had the sense the team was going to rally.
Then the final ten minutes of the game happened. Arizona fell apart, while Mississippi State took off.
With 10:01 left to play, Kevin Parrom hit a 3 from the corner to make the score 52-48. After that shot, the Wildcats went 2-for-11 from the field the rest of the way. They turned the ball over four times, while the Bulldogs started hitting shots, attacking the boards and running down the clock.
After hitting 14 threes on Thursday, Arizona made six this evening. After making 19 free throws against St. John's, they made five against the Bulldogs.
Solomon Hill (12 points, nine rebounds) and Jesse Perry (11 points, 10 rebounds) did their part, but a majority of the guards and wings did not find their shot against a stout MSST defense. Jordin Mayes hit a few shots early, but foul trouble kept him off the court for most of the second half.
Mississippi State was led by power forward Arnett Moultrie. The big man could not be stopped in the paint and ended with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs used a balanced scoring attack to their advantage, having seven players score six or more points.
This is a tough loss for the Wildcats, but they will continue to improve. Tonight the team learned that living and dying from behind the arc is not a recipe for success. Sean Miller and the coaching staff will make adjustments. We'll be fine.