Arizona Coach Sean Miller
I’d size the game up like this: that was as bad of an offensive first half as we’ve had all season. Along the lines of Southern Miss, because we had 12 turnovers and it’s kind of a struggle because we have individually talented guys and usually as the season grows things become easier to play together as a team. It’s not an intent issue where people don’t want to play team ball, being able to pass, being patient on possessions, taking what the defense gives, we didn’t have any of that in the first half. We were so fortunate to be down five points. And the reason why we were only down five points was because of our defense. And it was hard for them to score. We played the entire second half with only five turnovers and although it wasn’t pretty, between Solomon (Hill) and Mark (Lyons) they went a combined 0-for-8 from the three, and that’s never good for our team, but we were better. And our defense remained the same. Sometimes on the road when you can find a way and play great defense and learn, it means the world. Because you are not going to be perfect, especially in conference play. To me, this is our hardest earned victory of the season.
I am concerned about turnovers, but we showed glimpses of hope. For example, to play a half with five turnovers, that’s about as well as you can do at Washington. They pressure you and have great athletic talent, the crowd is into it, so you look at that 20 minutes and you leave here feeling really good. We’ve done that throughout the season. I can’t tell you a game this season where we’ve had a bad half then turn it around. No question, for us to do special things and continue to win, playing the 12 or few is our goal and we have to be more consistent in that area. And I think our offense needs to develop.
On the similarities between Washington and UCLA
The game was very similar to UCLA. The one common theme was Aziz N’Diaye affects so many shots at the rim that “when at first not successful, try something different”. We never really caught on to that until about four minutes into the second half, where okay, that’s not working. Let’s go on to plan B. That was part of early on our problem. But again, I’m really excited we were able to win. Kaleb Tarczewski quietly has put together his two best games of his career. Against USC he had 10 points and seven rebounds, tonight he had 10 and 8. His presence, a lot like Aziz, really helps us control. Especially on a night like tonight. He missed one dunk and was really close on having a great game. I think it shows where he will one day be. And maybe it’s someday this season. I’m really happy for him.
On C.J. Wilcox
Nick Johnson is an elite defender. When we start to feel that way you get comments from the opposing coach or players that would admit that he’s very good on defense and he is. Nick didn’t play particularly well in the first half but a sign of his growth and maturity is he is the best player certainly on our team, maybe both teams in the second half. He did everything.
G Nick Johnson
On getting the win:
Coming in here, we knew that Coach Miller had never won here. They have a great atmosphere, a great team. They’re always a tough, physical team. Coach challenged us at half time to go out there, play together and play hard, and that’s what we did. It wasn’t pretty at all, but we battled again and pulled it out.
On turnover problems:
At times we hurt ourselves, and we have to get better at that. I think we finished with 17 turnovers—5 in the second half, which is really what we want every half. I know we had 12 in the first, which is something that we have to get better at.
On fixing turnover problems down the stretch:
Just focus. We knew that by turning the ball over we were missing out on a lot of shots that could be taken. So you just have to focus in and make plays.
On late free throws:
I definitely knew that I needed to make them. I went 1-for-2 then 2-for-2. I just didn’t want to get it to the point where I missed and they got an easy bucket or something like that.
On Coach Miller’s reaction to slow start:
He was mad. Any coach would be furious in that situation because take away twelve turnovers and the game would have been so much different. And it’s a factor of us. You could say they’re going out there and making us turn the ball over, but we’re passing the ball into deflections, we’re losing it on drives. It’s a factor of what we’re doing and he only sees so much of what we’re doing on the court, and it kind of hurts him, and it hurts the team. But we stayed with is, only had five turnovers in the second half, and made the most of our plays.
On overcoming adversity in getting the win:
It was team ball, kind of like the Oregon game. Everyone contributed tonight. We had some good plays. Kevin came in and hit a three. It was a team effort tonight. It wasn’t just one guy hitting. It was also about defensive rebounding. We battled and eliminated their second shots. Early on they got a lot of second shots, they got some easy ones. And that’s not a play you can call. So if we limit them, push the ball in transition, get some turnovers, it opens up for us. And we made some big free throws and kept the lead.
On starting slow:
It’s been hurting us. It’s a factor of us finding a rhythm early on. This happened against UCLA where we we’re not connecting. I think it has a lot to do with our passing game. When we’re passing things become easier, instead of just one-on-one ball, trying to beat our man and get to the rim. Early on Aziz blocked three shots because we’re just dribbling the rock. He’s going to block shots when he sees them coming.