NCAA Basketball Arizona WildcatsPac 12 Basketball

Arizona Learns Valuable Lesson After Near Upset By Southern Miss

Casey Sapio – US PRESSWIRE

As if the Pac-12 didn’t need any more bad news, Arizona almost gave them a scare as they trailed at home to Southern Mississippi at halftime. Yes, Southern Mississippi – the alma mater of Brett Favre and former NBA player Clarence Weatherspoon, who you might remember from the 1993 Slam Dunk Competition or the NBA Jam games.

The No. 8 Wildcats trailed 35-27 to Southern Miss and the game was tied at 51 with five minutes left before the Wildcats ended the game with a 12-4 run. That sigh you heard wasn’t just the Tucson faithful relieved but the entire Pac-12 glad they didn’t have another monumental upset in their house.

Watching the end of the game, I was stunned because I didn’t think Arizona would lose until conference play. But considering they had won their last four games by 22 or more and had played only one game away from home, they probably got lazy. If not for a Nick Johnson‘s three before halftime, they would’ve been down by 11.

It’s a reminder that when teams schedule so many easy opponents, it creates false confidence and leaves them open for a bad performance every so often. As good as Arizona is, their schedule is terribly soft and it doesn’t bode well for a great team heading into a tougher Pac-12 conference.

They have the talent to beat anybody as well as a great coach in Sean Miller. But focus is what separates great teams from just being a collection of talent.

As the Pac-12′s only ranked team, the Wildcats didn’t represent themselves well Tuesday but fortunately they avoided a gigantic upset. Is it a call to panic? I doubt it. Unlike UCLA, who started reeling before and after their loss to Cal Poly SLO, Arizona’s a deep, balanced team with the right mix of veterans and youth and they’re going to regroup from this.

It was a good wake-up call before they face No. 6 Florida on December 15. The last thing the Pac-12 needed is another disappointment from a preseason favorite and Arizona got reminded why they can’t be lazy despite an easy schedule