CORVALLIS, Ore. – Devon Collier would have fit in pretty well with the Arizona Wildcats on Wednesday.
In UA’s 74-69 win over OSU, Collier missed four of his nine shots. He put the first one back. On two others, he grabbed the offensive rebound, was fouled and went to the line. On another, OSU picked up a team rebound, leading to a three-point attempt by Roberto Nelson.
As Arizona players have done all season, if Collier didn’t make it, he simply grabbed the ball and tried again.
That ate away at UA coach Sean Miller.
“I think Devon Collier rebounded his own miss three times,” Miller said. “Two times he scored a three-point play when we post-trapped.
“They were bigger, physical and… Eric Moreland, Devon Collier and Angus Brandt – I would put their physicalness, their size, against any front line in the country. There might be some front lines that you like more because they’re more talented and this or that, but just from a physical perspective, and they’re veteran players and we felt that tonight.”
At the same time, Miller found a good side to it all. UA was outrebounded 43-34, allowing the Beavers 16 offensive rebounds, yet overcame that in a five-point win.
How: Turning the ball over only eight times helped, while the Beavers had 15 turnovers. Arizona also allowed only five OSU points over the final 5:15.
And they received 4-of-9 three-pointers from Gabe York, the most threes York has hit since UA beat Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 18. Then there was 13 points with six rebounds from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had a layup and four free throws in the final 3:46 to help put OSU away.
“We made some really big plays and played the game with eight turnovers,” Miller said. “You play a game with eight turnovers you’re always going to be in it. Rondae and Gabe … we really needed those two.”
Miller said if the Wildcats had rebounded as well as they normally do the game “would have felt a lot different.”
UA has outrebounded 23 of its 30 opponents and tied twice. In those seven games when the Wildcats did not outrebound opponents, they won by less that two baskets all but once (a 73-53 win at USC).
The most glaring rebound total Wednesday: Two, from Aaron Gordon. The same guy who had 15 against Stanford last Sunday.
“Aaron Gordon, as you know, is as talented a rebounder as there is and he had two tonight,” Miller said. “It’s hard when he gets two. He had 15 against Stanford. That’s a pretty big swing. And our guards have been contributing. If you look at our guard rebounding, T.J. (McConnell, with one rebound) and Gabe (York, zero rebounds) we need those guys to get in and do it.
“We can be outrebounded 43-34 on the road and still win. We’ll take that, and also know that (rebounding) is something we have to get right.”
Nick Johnson made another move toward earning the Pac-12’s Player of the Year award by scoring 25 points on 8-for-18 shooting, making nine trips to the free-throw line (hitting six) while collecting six rebounds, grabbing three steals, dishing four assists and turning the ball over only once.
Johnson said he has been focused on how the team finishes up more than anything but his intensity was noticeably as high as any of his teammates. He said the game called for more from him.
“The way it worked out, I felt pretty good shooting the ball,” Johnson said. “I just tried to stay with it. I got open looks and T.J. was finding people. Just especially in tough environments like this, I try to take over a little bit and be more of an enforcer.”
Arizona will have two full days to recover from Wednesday's game before the Wildcats face Oregon. That's probably a good thing for them.
"We're a little beat-up right now," Miller said.
Here's a game story from the Oregonian.
And the official box score.
Surprising evening in the Bay area:
-- Utah picked up a big win at Cal.
Today's Pac-12 games:
-- UCLA at Washington, 7 p.m., ESPN2
-- USC at WSU, 9 p.m., ESPNU