No. 9 Arizona 68, Utah 64: Cats squeeze through

Arizona senior Solomon Hill goes up in the lane against Utah's Jason Washburn, right, in the first half of the Wildcats' win in Salt Lake City. Hill finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.


Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller put on one of his best stand-up comedy performances of the season Tuesday, but he wasn't standing.

Nor was he smiling.

With a team that has averaged 15.2 turnovers in five Pac-12 games, including a 13-turnover clinic during the first 22 minutes of the Wildcats' 59-57 loss to Oregon last Saturday, Miller clearly had had enough.

"It's hard to have fun doing anything in college basketball when your team is as inept at taking care of the ball as we have become," Miller said.

So he joked about how his 10-year-old son knows the rules for double-dribble better than his players, how some Wildcats would have trouble catching Frisbees and whether the thin air at upcoming games at Utah and Colorado might prompt somebody to move a pivot foot illegally.

He also jokingly wondered if he should shake up practice a bit. Literally.

"One thing I've never tried, I know football coaches roll their players. Like a log," Miller said. "I've heard that that really works. I've wondered if you rolled them on a basketball court how that would work."

But mostly, Miller simmered. He talked about turnovers and, when he wasn't asked about turnovers, he often talked about turnovers anyway.

Three full days after the Oregon loss, and the memory was even worse.

"Really, every minute from the game's ending until now you get more upset," Miller said.

Miller did manage to praise a defense that is holding opponents to just 38.7percent shooting in conference play but couldn't help but note that it has been negated by - yes - turnovers.

And what continued to bother Miller as much as anything was the fact that two of his three top turnover producers - Solomon Hill and Kyle Fogg - are veteran starters.

"In particular, if you've been through the wars, there's a lot expected," Miller said. It's about "being responsible and taking care of the ball."

Fogg, who has 11 turnovers in five Pac-12 games, agreed.

"Guys have got to do a better job of taking care of the ball, me included," Fogg said.

That was one way to say it. Miller put it this way:

He referred to UA's turnover at the end of the first half at USC:

"If you take the ball out of bounds with three seconds to go … you've always got to watch throwing it to the other team. You don't want to give them a layup.

"You want to catch the ball with two hands. We have a couple of guys if they were catching Frisbees right now they'd be 1 for 3, 1 for 4 every time that thing came out of the air."

He referred to the high altitude UA will play in at Utah and Colorado:

"We can't catch the ball right now when the weather is warm. I can only imagine when the air is thin. You wonder if double-dribble is going to happen or whether guys are going to move their pivot foot because the air is thinner. We're going to find out."

He said he would make sure the Wildcats all realized they were wearing blue uniforms for both games this weekend.

"We want to identify that our jersey will be blue, and we want to throw (passes) to that blue jersey, not the white one. I know Colorado sometimes wears gray, so I'll make sure to tell our guys that gray and blue is different, and we want to throw to that blue team.

"Our guys don't like (wearing) red. You can only imagine how much, if they don't like red, they might throw to the other team."

He intended to help the Wildcats catch up to what his son, Braden, knows about a basic basketball rule:

"Double-dribble is one of the things we're going to cover (in practice Tuesday). You dribble it. You pick it up. You can't dribble it again."

He was asked about NCAA tournament projections that don't include the Wildcats.

"It's tough to talk in those terms when you can't catch the ball … when you have three or four turnovers in the first four minutes of a home game. It's overwhelming. That type of team doesn't think in those terms (about the postseason). Today is about today. Tomorrow is about tomorrow. And we have to focus on beating Utah at home, which I know will be a very difficult challenge for our team."

Rim shots

• The Wildcats took Monday off after what Miller said has been a difficult post-Christmas grind through practices and five conference games. "We just kind of rested, mentally and physically," Fogg said.

• Miller said, in hindsight, forward Kevin Parrom may have benefited from taking a redshirt year after he suffered gunshot wounds in September. Parrom has not progressed since his November return. He is wearing a bandage over what appears to be a sprained finger, but Miller said he doesn't "even know what that injury is."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats through the Pac-12 season at

Up next

• What: Arizona at Utah

• When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

• TV: Ch 58 (Ch 8 on Cox and Comcast), FSAZ

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM