No. 14 Arizona closes homestand vs. Long Beach St

The Associated Press

Arizona coach Sean Miller was probably happy to be unhappy.

After his 14th-ranked Wildcats cruised through their first four games, they ran into resistance Thursday night. They fell behind South Dakota State by 10 points in the first half amid a flurry of turnovers (12) and quick shots that drew Miller's ire after a 71-64 win.

"Everybody gets their kicks out of quick shots. It's fun. It's like we're at a carnival," he said. "It doesn't work that way."

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Miller could end up being happy about all that because Arizona (5-0) still won while he gets to hammer home an early-season lesson about playing smart basketball, which he will be eager to see Sunday night when the Wildcats end a season-opening six-game homestand against Long Beach State (2-3) in Tucson, Ariz.

The Beach defeated Division II school Fresno Pacific 93-62 at home on Friday night. Junior college transfer guard Chance Hunter led the way with 21 points to up his team-best average to 15.8 points per game.

"I felt that was a game much needed for our confidence, especially offensively," said coach Dan Monson, whose team lost its top six scorers from last season. "I thought our guys really did a good job for 40 minutes of being offensively aggressive."

Miller noted on Thursday night that his team was 8 of 10 on 2-point shots in the first half but 3 of 14 on 3-pointers.

The Wildcats then attempted 3-pointers on their first two possessions of the second half -- missing both -- before Miller's point resonated. They launched just one more from beyond the arc while rallying for the win.

"At halftime, the message was simple: Let's get the ball closer to the basket, let's be a little more patient," Miller said.

"Do I feel we have the ability to learn a lesson here? No doubt. ... If we have to slow it down, we'll slow it down. The players who are efficient need to get more shots, and the players who keep missing need to shoot less, or play less."

Arizona does have the most efficient shooter in the country in freshman power forward Zeke Nnaji, who has made 37 of 44 shots from the field (84.1 percent). One of his misses was a 3-pointer late in the season opener. He is averaging a team-high 19.2 points.

Two other freshmen are next in scoring -- point guard Nico Mannion (13.4 points, 4.4 assists per game) and wing Josh Green (12.0 ppg).

Arizona's depth took a hit on Friday when the school announced the dismissal of sophomore guard Devonaire Doutrive because of a violation of team rules. Miller had suspended him for the first two games before Doutrive came back to average 6.3 points and 17.0 minutes in three outings.

This will be the third Pac-12 team LBSU has faced after losses at UCLA (69-65) and Stanford (86-58). Hunter, who scored 19 against UCLA and has made 11 of 15 3-point attempts, is one of several key transfers.

Michael Carter III, a guard who played at Washington as a freshman before not playing last season at South Dakota State, had 16 points and six assists against Fresno Pacific. He is averaging 12.0 points per game. Tulane transfer guard Colin Slater is scoring 9.2 points per game.

--Field Level Media

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