Another consequence of the Pac-12’s increasingly spread out schedule: Sometimes teams have to squeeze in the NCAA-mandated weekly off day between games over a weekend.
So, with games last Thursday against Colorado, Sunday against Utah and Wednesday at Stanford, UA coach Sean Miller chose Friday.
He said the Wildcats responded well upon returning this afternoon.
“I think every team is different,” Miller said today. “Our team is a very focused group and yesterday we took off. Everyone was locked in and getting ready for today. We had a good practice. And we have an opportunity to have a shootaround (before Sunday’s game) which is great.”
UA is having a gymnastics meet late this afternoon, which meant neither team could practice at McKale. The Wildcats went to the Richard Jefferson Gym while Utah practiced in Phoenix on both Friday and Saturday.
Upset about the fact that UA has not outrebounded opponents in two of the past three games Thursday, Miller said today it wasn't just about them.
“Sometimes what happens is some teams are really challenging you in that area because they know that’s our strength,” Miller said. “It’s part of their disposition in an effort to win because they have to do a great job themselves of being physical and rebounding.”
That said… forward Brandon Ashley has averaged just 3.7 rebounds over the Wildcats’ past three games.
“We’ve backed off a little bit in that area and I think Brandon in particular can rebound better than he has been recently,” Miller said. “He’s been starting to play well on offense but he’s had a couple of games where he hasn’t rebounded as well as he did a couple of weeks ago. We talked to him about it. And our guards have to contribute. They can’t just wait for the three big guys to get the ball. We’ve tried to address it and we’ll see how we do tomorrow.”
Despite having much inferior teams than it does now, Utah played the Wildcats close in both previous visits to McKale Center as a member of the Pac-12.
Utah led by 13 points before losing 70-61 on Feb. 11, 2012 and lost just 60-57 last season at McKale, holding UA to just 36.2-percent shooting from the field.
Now the Utes are 14-5 overall, though they are just 3-4 in the Pac-12 and have not won a road game all season.
“They have an influx of talented players and Larry Krystkowiak and his staff have done a great job,” Miller said. “Where they were three years ago and where they are now is a much different place. So when you play Utah right now you’re playing a more experienced team, not only with their own players but with their system.”