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Arizona could take the first loss of the season. Since no team had gone undefeated in
#1
Rainbow 
Arizona could take the first loss of the season. Since no team had gone undefeated in more than three decades, it felt almost inevitable. Falling out of the top spot in the poll wasnt bad, either; the goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the season, not the middle. Losing Brandon Ashley, thats going to be a little tougher for the second-ranked Wildcats to take, a development that will force them to shuffle things around and potentially put a dent in their national championship aspirations. "Its a huge loss for us not to have Brandon for the rest of the season," Arizona centre Kaleb Tarczewski said. "But we still feel that even without him, we still have a great team." With Ashley, Arizona hummed along to the best start in program history, beating teams like Duke, Michigan, UCLA and San Diego State while winning its first 21 games. The Wildcats fortunes took a bad turn Saturday night in Berkeley, when they lost the game 60-58 on Justin Cobbs last-second shot and lost Ashley to an awkward landing while going up for a rebound in the first half. Ashley injured his right foot on the play and faces the possibility of surgery. Arizona (21-1, 8-1 Pac-12) now faces playing the rest of the season without one of its best, most versatile players. "No one expected us to do as well as we have this year; we kind of just let our play do the talking," Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell said. "People can write what they want and say that were not a national championship team, but were going to work hard every day and they cant take that away from us." A 6-foot-8 sophomore, Ashley was a difficult matchup for opposing teams on offence, an athletic player who could score in the post, driving to the basket and, after spending countless hours working on his shot during the summer, from the 3-point line. Ashley is Arizonas third-leading scorer at 11.5 points and in rebounding at 5.8 per game. He shot 47 per cent from the floor, including 36 per cent from the arc and often gave opposing teams fits with his ability to keep offensive rebounds alive with his long arms. Ashley also is one of the Wildcats most versatile defensive players, a long, mobile defender who has the reach to block shots inside and out, the agility to keep smaller players in front of him. "Are we going to miss Brandon Ashley? No doubt about it," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "But we still can be an excellent team." The loss of Ashley will force some shuffling for the Wildcats. Defensively, Arizona should be OK without him. Freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, whos expected to slide into Ashleys starting spot, is an active and willing defender. At 6-7, hes just an inch shorter and may be better at defending perimeter players than Ashley, playing that end of the floor more like an upperclassman than a first-year player. Replacing Ashleys offence may be a little tougher. Hollis-Jefferson isnt quite as polished as Ashley on offence and doesnt have the same range, hitting 1 of his 6 attempts from 3-point range this season while scoring most of his points on drives and putbacks. With Hollis-Jefferson in the starting lineup, 3-point specialist Gabe York moves into the sixth man role and the rest of the roster moves up a spot. Miller has kept a fairly tight rotation this season, so now players who hadnt seen many minutes outside of mop-up duty will be counted on more. Guard Jordin Mayes was a regular contributor the past two seasons, but has seen his minutes decrease this season. Matt Korcheck, who redshirted last season, is an active player with a solid build at 6-10, 230 pounds, though he has played in just 10 games this season. Freshman Elliot Pitts, whos appeared in eight games, will likely see more minutes as well. Miller said forward Zach Peters, a transfer from Kansas whos battled concussion issues, isnt ready for consistent minutes yet. Playing time among the players vying for minutes will likely be based on circumstance, depending on how well theyre playing, the opponent and what the Wildcats need during specific points in games. "If we did nothing different other than just give the players who have played, minus Brandon, more of an opportunity, thats part of our solution," Miller said. "With that in mind, we know foul trouble and fatigue can certainly weigh against you, but we dont have to do this for 30 games, just nine regular-season games and then were in the post-season." Arizonas stretch run without Ashley starts Thursday night at home against Oregon. Foster Moreau Raiders Jersey . Long snapper Patrick Mannelly announced Friday that he is retiring after a 16-year-career with the Bears, a span in which he played in a team record 245 games and snapped the ball 2,282 times. 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