Arizona Wildcats basketball notes: Foul calls 'bizarre' to Sean Miller
Freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski coming into his own
Sean Miller was baffled.
The Arizona head coach had never seen anything like it.
Within the first three minutes of the second half, the 18th-ranked Arizona Wildcats were called for seven fouls, including one technical on Nick Johnson.
“That was the most bizarre three minutes of basketball I’ve ever coached in, played in, or witnessed at any level from the time I was two until I was 44,” said Miller.
“Bizarre. That’s all I’m going to say.”
The officiating crew at Saturday’s 73-58 Arizona win was whistle-happy throughout the game, but the second half in particular was filled with a lot of foul calls.
The game had 40 combined fouls called, and three technicals.
It didn’t quite set a record for the UA — the Wildcats had 50 of their own against NAU in 1953 — but it still caught Miller off guard.
Seven players — including four on ASU — were in foul trouble (with three or more fouls). Jordan Bachynski, Jonathan Gilling and Chris Colvin all fouled out for ASU, while Mark Lyons fouled out for the Wildcats.
“It was almost to the point where I wanted to call timeout,” Miller said, “pull our team off the court, recharge come back and start again. But, that’s all part of it. Playing through that type of moment it looked like the wheels were falling off but we got back on.”
After leading by 10 or more points for most of the game prior, with 13:22 left in the second half the Sun Devils brought it to within 10 on a layup from Jahii Carson. After a Gilling 3-pointer, it was down to five with 11:26 to go.
Johnson didn’t let it get any close than that, scoring Arizona’s next eight points and putting the game away.
“We got a few calls against us,” said Johnson, who scored a team-high 17points, ”and basically just had to come together as a team and just play how we were.”
Zeus coming into his own
Miller always said that his development wouldn’t be quick. Kaleb Tarczewski is a 7-footer, and 7-footers take time to develop (remember Kyryl?).
Well, the freshman center seems to be coming along just fine.
His numbers weren’t flashy against the Sun Devils — nine points, eight rebounds — but he was a difference maker.
“Kaleb continues to evolve and improve,” Miller said, “and it’s not just because he was 4-for-4 from the field.”
Tarczewski was aggressive, against two 7-footers nonetheless in Bachynski and Ruslan Pateev. He had three early baskets in the first half, including two thunderous dunks, but it was a succession of offensive rebounds in the opening half that set the tone for Arizona.
With 6:17 left in the first half, Tarczewski rebounded a missed Parrom 3-pointer, and immediately kicked it out to Johnson, who missed as well. Tarczewski was there again, and kicked it back out to
Hill who finally nailed his own three.
“So exciting,” Johnson said. “I told him, right when Solomon made a three and they called timeout, ‘that was all you. We got that three we went on that run because of you.’ When he’s working there on the offensive glass…it’s a great thing.”
On to the next one
Entering the afternoon’s game, there was an outside chance Arizona could find itself in a four-way tie for first place in the Pac-12.
If Oregon and UCLA lost, and Arizona won, the Wildcats would have improbably had a share of the Pac-12 title.
Improbably, being the key word.
Oregon lost to Utah, and UCLA trailed Washington for much of its game, but pulled it out in the end and cut down the nets for the regular season title.
Miller said it would have been nice to be a co-champion, but that he knew that Arizona probably didn’t really deserve that distinction in the first place.
The Wildcats will be the No. 4 seed in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. They will face the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between Colorado and Oregon State.
“We don’t know who we’re playing right now,” Miller said. “But, one thing I will say is Colorado is an excellent team.”
The Wildcats split the season series with the Buffs.
Senior walk-ons get some burn
Toward the end of the game, with a little over a minute to go, Hill could be seen walking up the court with a wide smile on his face.
Walk-ons Quinton Crawford and fan-favorite Max Wiepking checked into the game with 1:12 on the clock.
“Just seeing Max, seeing some of them guys on the court,” said Hill, who had 12 poins, four rebounds and four assists in his final game at McKale Center. “Being in position to put them guys on the court. It’s always good when you can put some of the guys like Max and Q on the court and you have such a lead like that.”
Wiepking entered to a standing ovation, but wasn’t able to convert on his two 3-point attempts.