NEW YORK -- Thursday was Sean Miller's 43rd birthday and one of the gifts he unwrapped was the perfect zone-buster:
His Wildcats made 14 of 29 three-pointers, by far the most it has made in the early season so far.
It wasn't really a surprise gift. The Wildcats could always shoot it, Kyle Fogg said. It's just that they didn't have much of a chance in their first three games against primarily man-to-man defenses.
"We don't show it as much because against the man-to-man, we don't get a lot of" good looks to shoot, Fogg said. "But you're looking at Kevin Parrom, Jordin Mayes, Nick Johnson, Solomon Hill, myself, even Kyryl (Natyazhko). We can pretty much all shoot it."
St. John's tried to play zone because it had a short bench and a zone-minded assistant coach in Mike Dunlap.
"Certainly that's a good strategy if you don't have a deep team -- to make the other team more perimeter oriented," Sean Miller said. "And to me that looks like the focus of their defense."
But the strategy didn't quite work so well when seven UA players hit open three pointers, as the Wildcats had Thursday in the first half alone. Over both halves, Fogg and Johnson had three three-pointers, while Hill, Mayes, and Parrom had two each.
Overall, Arizona was 14 of 29 (48.3 percent) from three-point range, after it was just 18 for 48 (37.5 percent) combined in its first three games.
The shooting and Arizona's relatively limited turnovers (10) helped compensate for the fact that the Wildcats allowed St. John's to shoot 51 percent from the field.
"If we don't shoot the ball well tonight, we don't win," Sean Miller said. "You look at 14 of 29 from three -- that's one heck of a night from three. I do think we have a team that can shoot the basketball but thank goodness we were hitting it, and we really took what they gave us."
Parrom said he battled all sorts of emotions in his return game home to New York after being shot Sept. 24 but tried to put them aside. He made only 2 of 8 shots but had five assists to just one turnover.
Parrom said he didn't know how many friends and family showed up but that there was a "lot of support" for him. He said he had to remove the rubber wristband he wears for cancer awareness in her honor for the game but was unable to have another item, as he had hoped.
Solomon Hill had 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and hit 5 of 6 free throws against St. John's, yet Sean Miller remembered the two backdoor layups he gave up defensively.
Yes, Miller's standards for Hill are really high.
"Sometimes I'll get frustrated with him because he's so smart of a player that he'll abandon ship once in a while and kind of gravitate toward his own thing," Miller said.
"He gave up two backdoor layups. But from a positive perspective a good game from Solomon Hill involves everything - rebounds, handing the ball, scoring close to the basket, being able to be a quality passer. Tonight he was involved in so many good plays."
Assist for UA's win tonight goes to Seattle Pacific, which beat the Wildcats at McKale on Oct. 27. Humboldt State, too, gave UA a difficult game in the second exhibition.
"It really allowed us to get a great feel of as a staff where we are, especially without Kevin," Miller said. "We're a much better team. We're further down the road than we were then. It's taken a lot of hard work by a lot of people to get where we're at today. Believe me, we are so far away from where I hope we can be but the fact that we're 4-0 and fought through and won some hard fought games, it's a real credit to our team as we're trying to piece together Kevin returning and these four freshmen."
Miller praised Josiah Turner, who came off the bench for eight points, three rebounds, one assist and four turnovers,
"Josiah made a couple of plays he hasn't made and you can kind of see -- two weeks from now, four weeks from now, maybe eight weeks -- he can be making more and more of those plays."
Turner came off the bench to play 19 minutes behind Jordin Mayes, who had 12 points and one assist in 21 minutes. Turner was benched for UA's Nov. 13 game with Ball State and did not start on Nov. 9 for being late to a shootaround.
Here's a PDF of the http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/ariz/sports/m-baskbl/auto_pdf/2011-12/box_score/stats_20111118aaa.pdf" target="_blank">official boxscore.
Here's a link to our http://azstarnet.com/sports/basketball/college/wildcats/arizona-st-john-s-no-wilting-in-garden/article_19d07bf1-e129-5f1d-ad62-42b56c26828e.html" target="_blank">full game story and the seen-and-heard http://azstarnet.com/sports/basketball/college/wildcats/seen-and-heard/article_92f125a1-b57e-5a39-a323-22e7008c6574.html" target="_blank">notes from Thursday's game. We also have a http://azstarnet.com/sports/basketball/college/wildcats/arizona-scouting-report/article_93dbdadc-739f-5acc-a830-063dddf21510.html" target="_blank">scouting report on the Mississippi State game.