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Arizona notebook: Butterflies vanish on the floor

2013-03-22T00:00:00Z 2013-03-22T14:03:14Z Arizona notebook: Butterflies vanish on the floorBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

SALT LAKE CITY - When Grant Jerrett stepped on the EnergySolutions Arena floor on Thursday to play possibly the biggest game of his life so far, his stomach didn't flutter and his head didn't spin.

He had already dealt with all of that.

On Oct. 21 at McKale Center. When more than 14,000 people came out to watch an intrasquad scrimmage.

"You play the Red-Blue Game, and you get nervous," Jerrett said. "But that's about it."

In other words, Arizona Wildcat fans can take credit for the fact that all three of the Wildcats' big men essentially said Thursday's NCAA tournament environment was no more nerve-racking than any other they had already faced this season.

By now, after 33 games before sold-out home crowds and hostile road environments at Clemson and in the Pac-12, the Wildcats' freshmen have already seen it all.

"It just felt like another game," forward Brandon Ashley said. "Soon as you touch the court, the butterflies are gone. You just think about the game."

Without any distractions, the three freshmen big men were free to focus on the obvious task at hand: Taking advantage of their considerable height advantage over the Bruins.

Kaleb Tarczewski had eight rebounds in just 20 foul-plagued minutes, while Ashley had seven rebounds and Jerrett had six rebounds plus two blocked shots.

Together, Arizona collected 44 rebounds to Belmont's 18 - and allowed the Bruins to earn only one successful second chance.

"It's one thing to have the advantage and it's another to take advantage of it," coach Sean Miller said.

"That's what we did. I don't know if we've outrebounded a team, at least in my time at Arizona, like that. Forty-four to 18 is pretty impressive, and clearly it was the difference in the game."

Say what?

After picking up a technical foul following an early three-pointer Thursday, Solomon Hill was coy about why he received it.

Upon hitting the three, Hill appeared to bring his hands together and say something, but he wouldn't say exactly what happened.

"It's one of those things, you know, it's tournament time," he said. "So you know you can't say anything. It's not like I disrespected the player or the coach, I was just hyped up for the game. Things like that will happen. Now I know better."

When asked what he said exactly, this was Hill's response:

"Nothing," he said, cracking a slight grin. "I didn't say anything."

Miller said he believed Hill did not do anything intentionally, that he was simply "charged up" after making his first three-pointer.

"He may have turned and said something after the shot," Miller said. "This is a tournament. You have to dot your I's and cross your T's, and be on it. I'm sure he learned his lesson."

No mood for consolation

In its first year in the Ohio Valley Conference, Belmont won the regular-season and tournament titles, an accomplishment coach Rick Byrd said he did not expect.

"I wouldn't have given them a chance to win the season and the OVC tournament," he said, "and be seeded 11th, and get votes over the past six or eight weeks for the Top 25."

But that still didn't make the loss to Arizona any easier for the Bruins, who have now lost in their NCAA tournament opener for the third straight year and are 0-6 overall in the event.

"They overachieved, and it is hard," Byrd said. "We have been here the last three years and thought we could beat Wisconsin (in 2011). Georgetown was a tougher matchup (last season) but we thought we could be more competitive than they were, and the same here tonight.

"It's just not any fun in that locker room after a game like that."

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