Arizona basketball notes: Miller not completely satisfied
Head coach Sean Miller wasn’t happy.
The Arizona men’s basketball team defeated Washington State 73-56 on Saturday, but Miller still wasn’t happy.
The Wildcats are 23-4 overall and tied with Oregon for first place in the Pac-12 at 11-4, but Miller isn’t fond of the recent effort in the second half of games from Arizona’s defense.
“You can’t be good for half the game or most of the game,” Miller said Monday. “We’re trying to be really good the entire game. With that takes exceptional effort and concentration. We can’t even take one play off. That’s when we can all feel like we have a chance to compete for something extraordinary, whether it be inside our conference or beyond.”
In the second half of Saturday’s game, the Cougars shot 52.2 percent from the field and Arizona only outscored them 38-37 after holding a 16-point advantage in the first half.
A big part of that has been foul trouble, and freshman forward Brandon Ashley is the biggest culprit. Against the Cougars, Ashley fouled out in 16 minutes of action. It’s the third time he has fouled out this season, and all three occurred within the last seven games. Overall he gets 2.8 fouls per game and has had three or more fouls (meaning foul trouble) 17 times.
During the Washington State game, freshmen bigs Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett had two and three fouls, respectively.
“I know Brandon had a lot of fouls in a quick period of time,” Miller said. “That’s to be expected by a young guy that doesn’t have a lot of experience.”
Miller, though, said he blames the second half lag in defense on effort. He also said the blame doesn’t fall on the freshmen.
“Our freshmen aren’t the problem on defense,” Miller said. “Picking and choosing effort, I would put the other guys in that category … We’re not talented enough. We don’t have enough offensive firepower to really finish this season off like we want to, unless we’re a great defensive team.”
Still, Miller said he believes this year’s squad is better defensively than any team in his four years as the UA head coach.
The Wildcats are second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, fifth in field goal percentage defense and fourth in steals. But they are last in the Pac-12 in three-point defense.
Lyons is “fine”
Similar to Nick Johnson a few weeks ago, Lyons played Saturday’s game with a sick stomach. But, he practiced on Monday and should be OK for the Wildcats games against USC on Wednesday and UCLA on Saturday.
“He’s fine,” Miller said. “He had a legit stomach bug and it was a lot like Nick did a couple weeks back. It was great to see he was able to play. It wasn’t as bad as Nick’s was but he got through it ok and I think he’ll be fine.”
Lyons, Arizona’s leading scorer with 15.2 points per game, had 14 points, four assists and three steals in 33 minutes against the Cougars.
Miller said Lyons practiced on Monday.
Williams brings T-Wolves teammates to Tucson
Former Wildcats star Derrick Williams made an appearance Monday night at a new Tucson clothing store he co-owns.
The store, called VII Grand Premium Streetwear and Sneakers, opened Feb. 15 in downtown Tucson.
Williams, along with his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and Greg Stiemsma signed autographs and posed for photos with fans.
“I’ve always wanted to open up a store,” Williams told the Daily Widcat. “It really hits home, especially coming back to Tucson where fans really took me in. I love it out here. The fans are always great, even when I did leave, they’ve always been great. It was a great turn-out today.”
Miller, who coached Williams for two years before he was selected second overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, said he wasn’t sure if he and Williams would run into each other at all while he was in town.
“We’d love to see him,” Miller said. “I don’t know if I’ll see him in Tucson. He’ll actually be in L.A. when we’re there as well, but obviously his number one priority is the Timberwolves. I don’t know if our paths will cross. I know he talked about maybe having the opportunity to maybe come to our USC game.”
Williams led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2010-11, and is currently in his second season with the Timberwolves, where he is getting 10.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season.
Arizona moves up in AP poll
Following two straight losses to California and Colorado, the Wildcats fell out of the Top 10 in the AP Top 25 poll last week to No. 12.
After sweeping the Washington series for the second time this season, the Wildcats moved back up to No. 11.
Arizona will travel to Los Angeles to take on USC on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and UCLA on Saturday at 7 p.m.