After UCLA beat up USC on Sunday afternoon, Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller watched just a few minutes of the ensuing Oregon-Colorado game.
That was enough.
“Sometimes, if I watch too many games, I start to get nervous, I don’t feel like our team’s good,” Miller said. “So I try to focus on our team or maybe the next opponent more. That, and we all would go stir crazy if we all watched that much college basketball.”
In a compelling game between two contenders for UA’s expected place at the top of the Pac-12, Colorado outlasted the Ducks 100-91 at CU’s Coors Events Center.
Compelling, at least for fans.
Scary, for coaches who have to play them.
“I would say that what was striking about the Oregon-Colorado game is just the reality that we’re in a really good conference right now filled with excellent coaches and teams,” Miller said. “I would like to think the respect nationally is in place. Our conference isn’t just good this year but it’s good for the future as well.”
The Pac-12 has the nation’s third-best conference RPI, behind the Big 12 and Big Ten, according to realtimerpi.com. It also has four Top 30 Sagarin teams and no team lower than 144 (Washington State) in the Sagarin power ratings.
The conference also now has four teams ranked in the USA Today coaches’ Top 25 poll: Arizona (1), Oregon (13), Colorado (17) and UCLA (25).
In the AP Top 25 poll, Colorado jumped ahead of Oregon after its win over the Ducks, moving to 15 while the Ducks fell to 17. Arizona kept its spot atop the AP poll for the fifth straight week, with the same 60 of 65 first-place votes that it had a week earlier.
While UCLA wasn’t ranked in the AP Top 25, the Bruins received the fourth-most votes among unranked teams after the USC game.
Beating the Trojans also helped the Bruins accelerate their offensive statistics. UCLA now has a scoring average of 87.1 points, the eighth-highest mark in the country, and is second nationally in field-goal percentage (52.7).
“We view them as one of the best teams in the country, certainly one of the best teams in our conference,” Miller said. In Steve Alford, UCLA has a “very, very good coach and excellent team filled with individual talent. They’re really playing well, especially offensively, and I think it will be potentially our most difficult challenge of the season when it comes to trying to stop the other team from scoring.”
UA center Kaleb Tarczewski said Monday his sprained ankle feels fine after returning to play both games last weekend. He hurt the ankle on Dec. 14 at Michigan, missed two games and spent the Christmas break recovering — but didn’t complain about the extra rehab work.
“This is basketball,” Tarczewski said. “It’s a sport I came to Arizona to play. A sport that our whole team loves. It doesn’t matter if it’s (Christmas) break or not.”
Tarczewski said the issue now is getting in a rhythm. He was 2 for 10 from the field against Washington, but Miller said that was because some plays just “didn’t work out for him.”
“Maybe he didn’t make some plays he normally makes,” Miller said. “I like the fact that he was involved in so many plays. I think him being involved in that many plays … there’s going to be a time when he’s going to finish them.”
Seven for now
While Miller used only seven players Saturday against Washington, he said again Monday that UA doesn’t have to go deep because of its versatility. All UA players average less than 31 minutes.
“It’s not like we’ve worn anybody out with the minutes we play them, but you have to bring something to the table to play,” Miller said. “We’re in constant search of what groups seem to work better, (and we) can never have enough guys contributing off the bench.”
Miller said Jordin Mayes remains ahead of Elliott Pitts at guard, though neither played Saturday, when guard Gabe York and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were the only reserves to play.
- Miller is participating in the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Arizona. Fans can vote at www.espn.com/infiniti.
- Askia Booker
- was named the Pac-12’s Player of the Week after collecting 27 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the Buffaloes’ win over Oregon.