While Grant Jerrett had an obvious breakout night aginst Oral Roberts, with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting, Brandon Ashley recovered from a scoreless game against Florida.
He had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, six rebounds and three blocks. Like Jerrett, Ashley said he did not alter his approach after an off game.
“I just want to have the same mindset whether I score a lot or not,” Ashley said. “I just try my best to come out into the game and still have an effect on the game whether that’s playing defense or rebounding, or whatever that might be. So I definitely didn’t look at the game any differently. I just played better in this one.”
Ashley, Jerrett and Solomon Hill together scored all of UA’s points during a 13-2 run early in the second half Tuesday, but the frontcourt guys were not just motivated by scoring: They knew they had to rebound better.
Arizona had no offensive rebounds in the first half – though they did make that a bit hard on themselves by hitting 63 percent of their shots – and barely outrebounded the smaller Golden Eagles 15-13 overall before halftime.
“For us offensively, part of our identity is to use that size and we have zero?” Miller said. That means “you’re not really following through. But we had eight in the second half and … Brandon Ashley was very good in the second half and Grant, I thought it was the best game he’s played.
"Did we play in spurts? Yes, that’s something we’re trying hard to do and we’re trying to get perfection there.”
Miller said that Jerrett’s strengths are finally beginning to show.
“Grant, for a long period of time, might have been our team’s best player in practice,” Miller said. “But early in a guy’s career, sometimes it doesn’t translate into the games. Tonight was more about what we see all the time (in Jerrett). He’s a really good shooter. He’s one of our team’s best shooters. He had a couple of inside baskets tonight which was great to see but he does that in practice, and he’s long, especially on defense. He can do a good job of defensive rebounding. … Who you saw out there is who we’ve seen for a long period of time.”
Kaleb Tarczewski hasn’t been able to fully show what he can do recently, having fouled out both against Florida and Oral Roberts. He played only 16 minutes on Tuesday before doing so.
Miller joked in frustration that he would tell Tarczewski to run away from contact “on your tippy toes,” saying he is hoping for Tarczewski to eventually be able to play his game without constantly having to worry about fouls.
“One of the things I’ve been telling him is, `Don’t get frustrated,’ “ Miller said. “As the season progresses, I think the officials will get more used to him. I hope it evens out because it’s difficult to be aggressive and play when guys are running into you.”
On several other occasions while discussing Tarczewski, Miller slipped into sarcasm.
“If every time you catch in the post, and you turn and it’s a foul, you start to wonder, should he fade away? Should he just dribble out and hand it to the point guard? So we’re going to work with him and we have to help him be more effective because he’s too talented to sit on the bench with fouls.”
When it was suggested to Miller that Tarczewski was level-headed, he said, “yes and no."
“He can get hot,” Miller said. “He has a mean streak that is a great trait for a post player. We have to have him to use it to his advantage, not his disadvantage. I thought a couple of calls on him were tough but that’s how the games are being called. (It's) 'Just get out of the way.' ”
Miller played Gabe York for the first time in four games, inserting him with 4:03 to go, and the McKale Center crowd gave York a round of applause.
While it is clear that the freshman guard is out of what is now a nine-man rotation, Miller indicated he will be needed (that wasn’t quite the case when Miller stopped playing Daniel Bejarano in 2010-11).
It’s just not clear when York will be needed.
“Gabe York deserves a lot of credit,” Miller said. “It’s hard to be recruited and not get the opportunity. His time will come. He’s a talented player. If you watch him tonight in the last four minutes I thought he did a really good job. He practices hard every day and it’s those four (freshmen) guys have given us that daily effort level that you love to see.”
Solomon Hill summed up how the Wildcats were able to stay focused on Tuesday’s game, when they had Florida in the rear-view mirror and a trip to Hawaii out the front.
“Beating Florida, you can’t be happy,” Hill said. “It’s not like we won the national championship game. We still have a lot of games ahead of us. We still have Pac-12 coming up and our Hawaii tournament.
“When Florida beat us last year, I’m pretty sure they didn’t celebrate; they kept it going and made it to the Elite Eight. It’s all about preparation. You win a game (like Florida) and it’s kind of hard to get guys refocused but I think we did a good job with it tonight.”
Here's the official box score.