Arizona is still in the Top 25, but is no longer unbeaten.
Given their next opponent, the Wildcats should have plenty of motivation to avoid a second loss.
The No. 23 Wildcats look to bounce back from their first defeat Wednesday night when they host San Diego State, which earned a rare win over the Wildcats the last time the schools met.
Arizona (4-1) opened the season with four straight wins, one coming against Big East opponent St. John’s. The Wildcats, though, tumbled eight spots in the Top 25 after losing 67-57 to then-unranked Mississippi State in Friday’s championship game of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.
“We’ve seen a lot in an early month and I’m very happy with four wins,” coach Sean Miller said. “We played 40 minutes against zone and pressure against St. John’s and then you go from a 9 o’clock start to playing the next day against a very different style with Mississippi State’s size, with only a shootaround to prepare. But we didn’t play well on offense or defense for sure.”
Forwards Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry combined for 23 points and 19 rebounds while going 11 for 22 from the field Friday, but the rest of the Wildcats shot 12 of 35 (34.3 percent).
Senior guard Kyle Fogg, the team leader with 12.8 points per game, managed seven against the Bulldogs.
Arizona holds a 20-6 lead in the series with San Diego State (5-1), but the Aztecs beat the Wildcats 63-46 at home Dec. 12, 2009. They’ve lost seven straight against Arizona in Tucson, where they haven’t won since a 69-67 victory Dec. 9, 1971.
“It’s a hard place to play; anywhere on the road is hard,” coach Steve Fisher said. “The day before Thanksgiving, trust me, it’s not going to be all students, but they’ll have that building filled. We think it will be a very good game.”
Fisher’s team has eked out a pair of close home wins since falling 77-67 at then-No. 11 Baylor on Nov. 15. The Aztecs defeated USC 56-54 last Thursday, then needed overtime to beat Long Beach State 77-73 on Saturday.
Jamaal Franklin led San Diego State with 21 points off the bench against the 49ers, including a pair of free throws with 3.9 seconds left in the extra period to seal the win.
It may be hard for Fisher to keep Franklin out of the starting lineup much longer. The sophomore guard is averaging a team-high 18.0 points and scored a career-high 31 in a Nov. 13 victory over UC Davis.
“Jamaal is the epitome of high, high, energy,” Fisher said. “He is 100 miles an hour all the time.”
The Aztecs have shot 38.8 percent from the field in their last three games after connecting at a 51.5 percent clip through their first three.