Arizona forward Brandon Ashley, stripping the ball away from Utah's Jeremy Olsen, did not start for the first time since Jan. 10. He responded with 10 points off the bench.


Final exams and papers are out of the way now for the Arizona Wildcats, but not the threat of nausea.

Not as long as Prof. Sean Miller is still administering his "midterms," that is.

With no game until Monday, when the 4-5 Wildcats will host Lipscomb, the UA basketball coach put his team through three straight grueling practices intended to improve offensive rhythm, defensive effectiveness and mental toughness.

"He's tired of trying to persuade people of what we're going to do," forward Solomon Hill said. "He's telling people, 'This is what we're going to do. I'm gonna run you to death until you do it.' It's very intense practices … but it's been fun, to tell you the truth."

Fun? Those failing to execute a drill properly subject their practice team to extra running. And if everyone screws up, watch out.

"There was an incident in practice where we messed up, and Coach put three minutes on the clock, and it was brutal," guard MoMo Jones said. "You throw the ball off the backboard and everybody has to tap it. But it's two-way, from one basket to the next and you have to jump. It wears everybody out.

"His philosophy on that is, 'I need to know who's going to give up, I need to know when things get hard who I'm going to play.' There's no quitting."

Miller was not available for comment Thursday but assistant coach Book Richardson said Miller's philosophy has never been to force guys to walk away or get sick.

Changing them is more like it.

"The last thing we want you to do is quit," Richardson said. "Do we want you to be tougher? Yeah, we do."

They also need the Wildcats to be more together. Miller has said repeatedly that guard Nic Wise is being forced into taking tough shots because his teammates aren't aggressive enough offensively.

The worn-out Wise took two days off from practice this week before returning Thursday. Jamelle Horne (ankle), Brendon Lavender (thigh) and Kevin Parrom (foot stress fracture) have also remained out of most drills.

"We can't put everything on Nic's back," Hill said. "Nic makes some great shots, but the way Coach plays is going to allow Nic to hit big shots and still get easy baskets for other people. … It's kind of easy to guard (only) two guys on the court so Coach tells us if we all move, the game is going to come easy to us."

The Wildcats will have the luxury of three straight home games to retrench - hosting Lipscomb and North Carolina State next week and BYU on Dec. 28 - but then it's back on the road to Los Angeles for the beginning of Pac-10 play on New Year's Eve.

By then, they can only hope Miller's lessons sink in.

"It's easy to make a couple of mistakes at McKale because our fans are behind us, and they get us going again," Hill said. "But it's kind of hard when they get two threes and fans are in your ear and everybody is getting down. You make a turnover, and then the guys are like 'Oh man.' (Miller) trusted us to (come) together and buy into what he is doing, (saying) everything was going to work out, but we're not there yet."

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