With Wildcats' defense ailing, Miller to rest starters more

2013-01-11T16:42:00Z 2013-01-11T17:00:34Z With Wildcats' defense ailing, Miller to rest starters moreBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Last season, the Arizona Wildcats held Pac-12 conference opponents to an average of 4.3 three-pointers at a 28.1 percent rate.

Over three Pac-12 games so far this season, Wildcats opponents are making eight three-pointers per game at a 50-percent rate.

“That’s alarming,” Sean Miller said today. “It’s amazing that we’re 2-1 with those numbers.”

Miller said a big part of the problem is fatigue, while speaking to the Star at Gill Coliseum after running the Wildcats through practice this afternoon.

While Miller tightened his rotation up more than ever this season on Thursday against Oregon, using only eight players and playing Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson 35 or more minutes each.

“One thing we’ve always done is subbed and all of a sudden when guys are playing 35 minutes a game, it’s amazing how their effort level can come and go,” Miller said. "And how in practice, all of a sudden they save their energy for the games, and the guys who aren’t playing as much all of a sudden don’t quite practice as hard.

“The next thing you know, you’re off track.”

So, for example, Miller said he would look to reduce Solomon Hill’s minutes to the 32-34 range on Saturday against OSU, look for more from Jordin Mayes (who played just 13 on Thursday) and pull Angelo Chol back into the rotation after Chol did not play Thursday and in only 3.0 average minutes in the UA’s three games before that.

“I kind of pulled back (on Chol) and I’d like to get him to where he was,” Miller said. “He’s a great example of a guy who’s going to come in the game and play very hard. While he’s in, another player is out and it kind of keeps us going. Over the long haul that’s what’s most important for us.

“Jordin has done a great job on defense and he’s someone we trust there. Kevin played about 29 minutes a game (28.7) in conference and it’s amazing how as he’s played the most minutes for him, you can see a difference in how he’s played. So I think a real awareness for us is making sure we have fresh bodies throughout.”

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OSU coach Craig Robinson said today that Eric Moreland would not play Saturday because of his violation of team rules, but that he was not sure how long the valuable forward would be out after that.

Moreland is averaging 11.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and was at the top of the Beavers’ 1-3-1 zone defense, which has sometimes caused UA trouble in the past.

The Beavers are already limited inside without Angus Brandt, who was lost to a knee injury early this season.

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Even without Moreland, the Beavers still have plenty of concerns for Miller.

Point guard Ahmad “Starks is a prolific scorer and Roberto Nelson – when those two guys get it going they’re really hard to deal with,” Miller said. Up front, center Joe “Burton and (Devon) Collier are experienced. They’ve had big roles on last couple of teams, they know what conference play is about. Especially against our younger guys, that experience really helps them and not us. So we have to be ready.”

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OSU also has not lost to UA under Miller at Gill Coliseum, winning by three points in 2009-10 and by one in 2010-11 (UA did not play at OSU last season because of the unbalanced Pac-12 schedule).

“Solomon, Kevin and me all came through here twice with a loss and both games ended on the last play,” Miller said. “So hopefully we can break through here.”

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