Frustration setting in for Miller, Wildcats
TUCSON — Arizona coach Sean Miller admitted Saturday
that he's a bit frustrated with his team. And why not? It's inconsistent and
stuttering. And it continues to struggle with first-half fits or lapses.
"I spent about an hour and a half (on Saturday afternoon during the game)
motivating, begging, pleading, yelling, screaming, subbing, and it's a shame
that didn't come from within (his players)," Miller said.
The result: UA fell 59-57 to the Oregon Ducks in the McKale Center on Saturday
Arizona did have two shots at a win or a tie. UA's Brendon Lavender, arguably
the hottest shooter in the Pac-12 Conference the last couple of weeks, missed a
3-pointer with seven seconds left. Senior Kyle Fogg found the rebound, only to
miss about a 10-footer at the buzzer.
"I feel good that (Lavender) had a pretty good look from 3 to win the
game," Miller said. "And (there was) a nice pull-up by Kyle."
Miller added that the lessons-learned process for Arizona is long gone. Moral
victories and tough losses don't apply anymore. Nothing will be gained from
Arizona's loss to Oregon. Not when his team played about half of it at full
"I think it says a lot about our team and our leadership and where we
are," Miller said. "We didn't get the job done."
To put it mildly, Miller said "we have some challenges."
The first one — again — continues to be getting through the first half with
some grit and guts. Arizona consistently hasn't had either in many games. Against
Oregon, the first 20 minutes proved to be too much to overcome as the Ducks led
34-22 at the half. Oregon increased its lead to 41-24 with 17:33 to go, but UA rallied
and actually grabbed a 55-54 lead with 2:59 remaining.
Although Miller commended his team for the late-game rally, he was disheartened
by its overall effort.
"I'm very disappointed in our team," Miller said. "We are not the most talented Arizona team. We're certainly not the biggest Arizona team, but
what we can control is collective effort. And for 20 minutes, we picked and
(chose) how hard we were going to play."
He said the game was too "physical for us." He used the term
"men against boys" when it came to the rebounding effort in the first
20 or so minutes. UO held a 16-11 advantage in rebounding in the first half and
forced UA into 10 first-half turnovers.
Miller said the team was "15 percent at best" when it came to concentration.
The Wildcats’ 22 first-half points were one more than their season-low, which
occurred in a 71-60 loss to Gonzaga in Seattle.
"Sucks," said Solomon Hill of the loss. "The first-half play was
the reason why we lost."
Arizona fell to 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12. It's the second loss at
home this season after having a 22-game home winning streak, which started in
"I'm tired of it," Hill said, "tired of losing in my own gym. My
freshman year we got beat a lot here. I don't like losing here. It's a funny
feeling. I haven't lost a conference game here since my freshman year."
Hill attempted to do his part in helping Arizona rally. Down 45-31 with 14:38 left,
Hill, who finished with a game-high 16 points, hit back-to-back 3-pointers and
then converted on a three-point play to help Arizona inch back. But the Ducks
kept the ‘Cats at a distance before Arizona re-rallied with an 11-0 run in a
four-minute span to take its lead.
But like it's been all season for the Ducks, it found a way
to win. Oregon is now 9-0 in games decided by 10 or fewer points.
"A win is a win in the league. We traditionally haven't done well
here," Oregon coach Dana Altman said, referring to it being the program’s second
sweep of the Arizona schools on a weekend trip. "We are not hitting on all
cylinders. We played good, but I know we can play great."
Miller isn't sure what to think about his team. He said outside of maybe the
last 16 minutes where Arizona played with "great confidence and courage,"
Arizona didn't have it.
Freshman Nick Johnson said a solution might be for his team to be more
proactive than reactive. Saturday was the perfect example. UA had to attack
instead of waiting to be attacked.
"That's what we have to do down the road — not wait for something to
happen," Johnson said. "We have to do it ourselves."
Or losses will continue to mount.
"The conference is going to be hard to win but the team that can play 40
minutes every game can win it," Hill said. "I don't see why not. It's
not like someone is going out there and kicking everybody's butt in the
conference. It sucks that we can't take advantage."