ANAHEIM, Calif. — And the firsts continue for the Miller brothers.
Just moments before Arizona was to start in what turned out to be a 70-64 victory against San Diego State, his younger brother, Archie, was leading Dayton to an Elite Eight appearance with a victory over Stanford.
The Millers became the first brother tandem to reach the Sweet 16 and now, obviously, the first to make the Elite Eight.
"Iâm happy for Dayton; I’m happy for Archie," Miller said. "The fact that the two of us are in the Elite Eight is a very unique situation."
Miller said the Wildcats were watching his brother’s team and seeing a lot of similarities. Archie was UA’s associate head coach before taking the Dayton job three years ago.
"They run a lot of the same plays we run," Miller said with a smile. "It was interesting to hear our players call them out — that’s this and that’s that."
Arizona freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson fouled out with 4:40 left in the game and UA up 52-51 in what was one of the more physical games Arizona has been in.
He had 15 points and six rebounds. When he left the floor, all his teammates went to the sideline with him, proceeded to finish off the win.
"It was tough when I first came out," he said. "I felt as though I made a mistake. I felt I wanted to be out there. As the game went on, I was still cheering for my team because I believed in them. When you’ve got belief it kind of rubs off on your teammates. I kept cheering, and things went well for us."
Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon who kept Arizona in the game through the first 35 minutes. They combined for 30 points and 12 rebounds â exactly 15 and six apiece.
"Rondae played great for us; these four or five games he’s been playing like the best freshman in the country," said All-America guard Nick Johnson, who struggled until the gameâs final minutes. "That’s along with his partner Aaron Gordon. They are playing great. They picked me up."
UA center Kaleb Tarczewski picked up his third foul with 5:14 left in the first half and had been a non-factor to that point. No points, no rebounds and one blocked shot.
He picked up his fourth just more than a minute into the second half. And then didn’t pick up another one the rest of the game â although Sean Miller limited his minutes. He finished with seven points and one rebound, but Miller credited Tarczewski with Arizona’s second-half success.
"That surge in the second half began when he came back in the game with four fouls (with 11:21 left)," Miller said. "We got the ball to him deep in the lane, (and) he converted. A lot of our players played through adversity."
Miller admitted it wasn’t Tarczewski’s night. He’s been smart throughout the season in avoiding foul trouble, but he picked up his fourth on Thursday defending a jump shooter on the perimeter. But Tarczewski turned his game around enough to help in the end.
The Aztecs were called for goaltending on a Tarczewski’s jumper that inched UA back to 47-46 with 8:46 left. It was such a curious call that San Diego coach Steve Fisher asked the media how much time was left when it occurred.
"That many minutes?," Fisher said when told the time. "Felt like it was the last 30 seconds."
And with that he said "thank you" and left the podium.
San Diego State had the lead for majority of the game but lost it with 5:46 left. The Aztecs tied it at 50, but then Arizona scored on a Gordon layup and never trailed again.
"It was all about playing a 40-minute game," guard Gabe York said. "Some of these teams want to give us their best shot but they haven’t played that type of basketball for 40 full minutes. You can tell when somebody gets tired. They have their hands on the knees and huffing and puffing.
"We’ve done that all season. You can see, it’s noticeable."