NORMAN, Okla. - Nic Wise has been down this road before, literally, and he doesn't want to see it again.
The Wildcats went 2-7 in true road games last season, failing to win outside the states of Arizona and Oregon, in what became possibly the No. 1 argument against their ultimately successful NCAA tournament résumé. UA lost five of those road games by 14 points or more.
This season they began with a spiritless 79-62 loss at Oklahoma on Sunday in a game that was more lopsided than the score indicated.
"We don't play that way at home, and it's something we have to get out of our head," said Wise, the Wildcats' senior point guard. "We played bad on the road last year so we're going to have to do a lot better than that."
So even though the culture and half the players are new this season under first-year coach Sean Miller, some things haven't changed. Not when, according to forward Jamelle Horne, players abandon the new schemes Miller's staff is installing.
"We have a system, and we have to stick by that," Horne said. "If we do that we're going to be successful."
On Sunday, especially in the first half, the Wildcats didn't stick by anything. Instead of working the ball around to get good shots, they would often force a shot, turn the ball over or simply watch Wise or Horne, who took more than half of the team's field goal attempts.
Miller could barely keep his eyes open. Saying he "didn't look at our team as coming in here and expecting to win," Miller found the Wildcats struggled even more than he expected when they began freelancing.
"If we made a shot, it wasn't like I was saying, 'Great job,'" Miller said. "We were just plain hoopin' - just going one-on-one out there. Maybe that happens when you go on the road for the first time, but that's something we really have to address."
The Wildcats don't have much time to do so. After a 5a.m. wake-up call Monday, they had two flights to reach home, then a film review in the afternoon - and just one more day to prepare for 7-1 Louisiana Tech on Wednesday at McKale Center.
They also have another road game looming Saturday at San Diego State.
"We're playing a heck of a schedule," Miller said. "We played three really good games in Maui, lost a heartbreaker to an excellent UNLV team and came to Norman. This is a schedule that's really set up for a good team. Sometimes when you lose, confidence starts to be a part of the problem."
Miller said the Wildcats played better and more cohesively in the second half, when he used more reserves, but it was a small consolation.
UA received seven points in five second-half minutes from Garland Judkins, forward D.J. Shumpert pulled down two rebounds in five minutes, and Dondre Wise had a steal in only the second game he's played this season.
"A couple of those players who had an opportunity played hard, played together and did a good job," Miller said at the post-game interview podium. "But for me to sit up here and fill it with a lot of positives would be absolutely foolish."
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