When Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller was asked Saturday about possibly facing Colorado again in the Pac-12 tournament, he hesitated.
"Anything can happen in March," Miller said. "We don't really know who we're playing right now so I'm not going to comment. The one thing I will say is Colorado's an excellent team."
Especially considering the two teams Arizona could face in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals Thursday, his restraint is understandable.
Colorado and Oregon State, who will meet in a first-round game Wednesday, are two of the Pac-12's most confounding teams. Colorado followed big wins over UA and Oregon with bad home losses, while the veteran Beavers have fallen far below their preseason expectations.
So, especially with Colorado rebounding whiz Andre Roberson out with an illness, maybe it wasn't a big surprise that Oregon State beat Colorado 64-58 on Saturday, ruining the Buffs' postseason Senior Day festivities and dimming the memory of their win over Oregon on Thursday.
"The reality is that we just lost to a team that was 3-14, coming into our building, with a great crowd, with a snowstorm blowing on us, on senior day," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said, according to an Associated Press story. "Those guys in the locker room have to get their heads on right, have to get ready to beat whoever is placed in front of us. It makes me sick to my stomach, that we could not give our fans more than we gave today."
While Boyle found himself addressing fans with an apology at the beginning of postgame Senior Day ceremonies, the game was much needed for the Beavers, who had lost their five previous games to skid into an 11th-place tie with Washington State. The Cougars won the tiebreaker because of their win over UCLA on Thursday.
"It's a relief to go into the Pac-12 tournament with a solid win behind us," OSU guard Roberto Nelson told reporters after the game.
The Beavers and Buffaloes will play their first-round game at about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, exactly 24 hours before the winner of that game will face Arizona. The Wildcats will have a relatively normal early week schedule before traveling to Las Vegas on Wednesday and they also have scheduling flexibility because they are on spring break.
"We have some days to practice and that's what's good about that first bye," forward Solomon Hill said.
Tarczewski on roll
It may be too late to earn him a spot on the Pac-12's crowded all-freshman team, which will be announced today, but center Kaleb Tarczewski finished the regular season strongly.
Tarczewski is averaging nine points and eight rebounds in his past five games, which was exactly his output Saturday. He also made all four field goals he took against the Sun Devils.
"Kaleb continues to evolve and improve and that's not just because he was 4 for 4 from the field," Miller said. "His rebounding was a big part of it. He established his rebounding against two 7-footers. He's nowhere near where he'll be, but if you think back to November or December, he's really improved."
Before Saturday's game, Miller said he didn't know if any of his three freshmen could make the Pac-12 all-freshman team, which figures to be led by ASU's Jahii Carson and UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad.
"None of (UA's) guys have necessarily played 35 minutes a game," Miller said. "We obviously love all three of them. I would say Kaleb and Brandon (Ashley are candidates) just because they started games, and Kaleb has done nothing but get better and better as the year has gone by.
"But there's a lot of talented freshmen. I know the two freshmen at Colorado (Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson) are excellent, and nobody put it on us like Xavier Johnson did."
Mayes makes move
Junior guard Jordin Mayes put together a second straight efficient game off the bench to get back his spot as the top combo guard off the bench. Mayes had six points and a steal in 12 minutes while playing what Miller said was good defense.
"It wasn't just fill-in 12 minutes - it was a productive 12 minutes," Miller said.
Mayes did not score in four games prior to UA's trip to Los Angeles last week and was briefly surpassed by Gabe York in the playing rotation as his confidence appeared to suffer.
"All these guys are young guys - they have (confidence), they lose it, they work hard to get it back," Miller said. "That's our job as a program and a staff that when one of our players is down that we can do whatever we can to pick him up. Jordin is playing with more confidence and he's a more valuable player right now."
• What: Pac-12 tournament
• Who: Arizona vs. Colo./Ore. State
• Where: Las Vegas
• When: 2:30 p.m. Thursday
• TV: Pac-12 Networks