Feb 3, 2014 8:08 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Despite Ashley injury, Cats fans stand behind basketball hopes

TUCSON - The University of Arizona men's basketball team had its perfect streak ended in Berkeley over the weekend, falling to California and losing a key play to an injury during the game. Cats fans and players alike still cling to hope of a national championship title.

The Cats were dropped to No. 2 in the Associated Press ranking on Monday, ending their 8-week run on top of the polls.

The upset loss also turned into a nightmare for Cat's fans, as Arizona's lead forward Brandon Ashley was taken out of the game because of a foot injury. According to Arizona Athletics, he will likely remain out for the remainder of the season.

Head Coach Sean Miller said Monday that Ashley will need surgery over the next couple of weeks. However, he remains hopeful for the season.

"We have to make up for his loss in a number of different ways and I have no doubt that we can do that. Are we going to miss Brandon Ashley? No doubt about it... but we can still be an excellent team," Miller said.

Guard TJ McConnell said that now is an opportunity for the rest of the team to show up and play that much harder.

"Our guys are going to have to step up. People are going to have to play more minutes but we feel bad for Brandon but as a team we've got to move on and get ready for Oregon," McConnell said.

The Cats fan-base is also unwavering. Student tickets sold out within minutes for the next home game.

"I think the goal has always been a national title and I think that we've set those aspirations for us but the goal is to get into the tournament and it's really just how seating breaks down and who gets hot at the right time and there's always a possibility ... so I'm just hoping that we can make a run in the tournament," said Mario Ziccarelli, Executive Director for the ZonaZoo

Miller said that the team's focus right now is on Oregon, they're next opponent, which will likely be their toughest test yet for their defense this year.


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