Pac-12 basketball tournament: No. 21 UCLA 66, No. 18 Arizona 64: Bruins school Cats 3rd time

Mark Lyons, left, huddles with (from left) Kaleb Tarczewski, Solomon Hill, Brandon Ashley and Nick Johnson as the Wildcats try to figure out a way to stop UCLA's second-half momentum. UA saw an 11-point lead disappear midway through the half.


Seconds after the Arizona Wildcats were announced as a No. 6 seed matched up against No. 11 Belmont in the NCAA tournament, the alerts flashed.

On the CBS Selection Show: "Belmont's gonna take down Arizona!"

In USA Today: "Potential upset: No. 11 Belmont over Arizona."

On Yahoo!, under the heading "Fraudulent Five" that discusses potentially bounced NCAA tournament teams: "Seems an eternity ago that the Wildcats were 14-0."

And in a statistically oriented analysis, Belmont was listed as a "Best Bet" to be a "Giant Killer" with a 46.8 percent chance of an upset: "It's no secret that statheads love the Bruins."

An intern in Arizona's media relations office took note of all that, thought about it, and realized it was just people who are paid to pick upsets and talk about them.

But that intern, Solomon Hill, is also a senior forward for the Wildcats. So he has another perspective, too.

"Whatever they say is part of what they want to do as a profession and it doesn't affect me, the way I play on the court," Hill said. "I feel like everybody on our team knows we're a great team and we're capable of beating anybody in that field. Doesn't matter.

"People are going to throw out upsets. We don't really pay attention to other people when they say all that upset alert stuff. But somebody some has to say something about it."

While coach Sean Miller was not present at Monday's news conference, Arizona's other representative, Jordin Mayes, said he heard it all, too. But again, he appeared unfazed.

"I heard the comments but I didn't really pay attention to it," Mayes said. "Belmont's a good team. They're in the tournament. But we're a good team. We've just gotta come out and play hard and step up on the defensive end, hope they're not shooting as many threes as they've been shooting."

Belmont's 39-percent three-point shooting, in fact, is a major reason why the Bruins are such a trendy upset pick. So is the fact that Belmont starts only juniors and seniors, has a well-respected veteran coach in Rick Byrd, and nearly beat second-seeded Duke in the first round in 2007-08.

Then there's Arizona, which is often seen nationally as an underachieving team with a Top 5 recruiting class that skidded toward a 5-5 finish to end the season.

Boilerplate stuff if you're picking upsets.

So go ahead. Pick the Bruins. Even Hill can see why somebody might - and why he believes the Wildcats will win anyway.

"They have great shooters," Hill said. "They're a tough playing team. They're an excellent free-throw shooting team, but they're a smaller team. So I'd think they'd be a faster team. I think we'll have a great chance against them, especially with our height and ability to rebound the ball."

UA mum over fine

There was no public response from UA on Monday after the Pac-12 announced Sunday night that Miller had been fined $25,000 for his postgame actions following UA's 66-64 loss to UCLA on Friday in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Miller was scratched from his weekly news conference, and UA athletic director Greg Byrne said via text message that he would not comment aside from his tweet that said he was "glad Sean Miller is our coach."

Hill said he was unaware of the fine, though he said did see this tweet from former UA player Derrick Williams:

"Anybody else want to pitch in for that Terrible $25k fine that Coach Miller got?" Williams' Twitter page said. "Awful!"

The $25,000 fine will be put toward the Pac-12's post-graduate scholarship fund.

No birthday bash

Hill turned 22 on Monday but said he expected to have a low-key night - maybe some dinner with friends.

"I've never had any big birthday plans," Hill said. "I'm always playing."

That's just the way he likes it. Hill turned 19 when UA sat out the 2009-10 postseason and became 21 four days after the Wildcats were eliminated from the NIT by Bucknell last March.

"That was a sad birthday," Hill said. "It's always fun to know you're still playing basketball. I love it."

Up next

• What: NCAA tournament, second round

• Who: No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 11 Belmont

• Where: Salt Lake City

• When: 4:20 p.m. Thursday