Defense steps up: Wildcats shut down top shooter

Nick Johnson, Arizona's best defender for most of the season, had a major role in keeping Ian Clark, left, from heating up.


For a coach who said all along that his team should be at its best in February, Sean Miller's current frustrations are no surprise.

First, in UA's loss to Oregon State on Feb. 13, Miller indicated that the Wildcats carried their offensive frustration over to the defensive end and had some lackadaisical efforts against the Beavers' complex offense.

Then, in a 73-69 loss to ASU on Sunday, Miller said the Wildcats played hard but were beaten routinely by the superior offensive effort of ASU's Ty Abbott.

After Miller saw his team improve on early-season problems with top opposing perimeter players - in Pac-10 play, UA had let only three of them score more than 20 points before Sunday - Abbott's performance was particularly difficult for Miller to witness.

Abbott was held to 10 points on Jan. 23 in Tempe but dropped 28 in the first 29 minutes Sunday at McKale Center.

"In our first game, Northern Arizona, they had a player go for 30," Miller said, referring to Cameron Jones, who had 29. "We've worked hard to get better. We're a man-to-man defensive team, and part of the deal is you have to work and get through games, make it so that someone like Ty Abbott, who runs off screens, doesn't have that room, just can't get shots.

"Some of those things we can control in the next four weeks, and some of the things we can control a lot better in the future."

The Wildcats may have to improve quickly on defense to succeed this weekend on the road: Although they swept the Bay Area schools last month, Cal's Theo Robertson had 27 points and Stanford's Jeremy Green had 25 in the games at McKale.

"Our margin of error when we beat Cal was razor-thin, and I think we're seeing the other side of that razor-thin," Miller said. "Our game at Washington and (Sunday's) game were very similar in that we gave great effort and pulled up short.

"For our staff and myself, we have to navigate this team through the season as best we can and finish strong."

Heat of the moment

Pac-10 referee coordinator Bill McCabe said Monday he was unconcerned about UA forward Kevin Parrom's shot at ASU's Derek Glasser at the final buzzer Sunday, after speaking with crew chief David Hall.

According to McCabe, Hall described the interaction as follows: "Glasser said, 'He bumped me,' and I turned to Glasser and said, 'the game's over, the game's over.'"

McCabe said that the incident would have had "to be more of an altercation" for the conference to consider discipline.

"It happened right after the buzzer, and there was nothing to do except make sure it didn't become anything worse," McCabe said. "Emotions are high. They get real high with some of these players."

Miller said after Sunday's game that he would talk about it with Parrom, and said he was apologetic to ASU.

Times are set for final games of regular season

The March 4 UCLA-Arizona game was picked up for national Fox Sports Net distribution, meaning it will start at 8:30 p.m.

UA's final regular-season home game, on March 6 against USC, was set for 11:30 a.m. and will be broadcast on KWBA-TV and Fox Sports Arizona.

Meanwhile, UA's game at Stanford on Saturday was moved up an hour, to 5 p.m. Mountain time. That game will be televised on KWBA and Fox Sports Arizona.

Landry honored

Stanford forward Landry Fields picked up his second Pac-10 Player of the Week award Monday after averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the Cardinal's road sweep of Oregon and Oregon State.

Fields, a conference Player of the Year candidate who will face UA on Saturday, had 31 points and 11 rebounds at McKale Center on Jan. 28.

making their points

Perimeter players who have scored 24 or more points against Arizona this season:

Jimmer Fredette, BYU 49

Quincy Pondexter, Washington 30

Cameron Jones, NAU 29

Cory Higgins, Colorado 28

Ty Abbott, ASU 28

Theo Robertson, California 27

Tre'Von Willis, UNLV 25

Willie Warren, Oklahoma 25

Kyle Gibson, Louisiana Tech 25

Jeremy Green, Stanford 25

Trevon Hughes, Wisconsin 24

Up next

• Who: Arizona at California

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday