BOULDER, Colo. – The Arizona Wildcats have lost two in a row for the first time this season and are still only a few weeks removed from an 11-point home loss to UCLA.
So Sean Miller was asked where, exactly, his team is right now.
“Twenty and four,” he said.
Then he was asked specifically where they were.
“Twenty and four.”
Upon further questioning, Miller expounded. It was a loss, hardly an unexpected one, and he tried to put it into context.
“It’s never as bad as it seems and the sky isn’t falling,” Miller said. “For all I know we could go to Utah and play a great game. Then we’ve got two home games after that to get back on track.
“But there aren’t a lot of teams right now who are headed where we’re headed.”
Miller and a lot of other Pac-12 coaches looked at Xavier Johnson out of Mater Dei High School but, according to Scout’s Josh Gershon, Colorado was the only Pac-12 school to offer him a scholarship.
The Southern California-based Gershon, who attended Thursday's game, said he was surprised Johnson was not more frequently sought, with Scout having ranked him No. 59 on its list of Top 100 players from the class of 2012. But Gershon noted that Johnson played with (and was overshadowed by) Shabazz Muhammad on the Dream Vision travel team.
Johnson, who had 19 points and nine rebounds Thursday, indicated in postgame interviews Thursday that his high school background and recruiting experience is motivating him now.
“Playing against Grant Jerrett in high school and some of those other players I played (against), I knew them when I grew up,” Johnson said. “It adds fuel to the fire and that why I was able to do what I did.”
While Jerrett was named a McDonalds All-American last year, Johnson has become one of the Pac-12’s top freshmen in a league loaded with good ones.
“Xavier Johnson doesn’t get a lot of national recognition,” Miller said. “I’m not sure he’s not the best freshman in our conference. If he’s not, he certainly should be put up there with three or four others that everybody acknowledges.”
Miller took Angelo Chol off the bench early in part because he was trying to give his regulars plenty of rest at the high-altitude Coors Events Center. But he ended up leaving Chol out there for 20 minutes because of what Chol did – collecting a monster one-handed dunk as part of eight total points and four rebounds.
“One of the things I was excited about was seeing Angelo Chol play the way he did,” Miller said. “He really played well. You can tell his confidence is growing and he made some really key plays for us in the first half especially. He played about as well in his role as anybody on our team.”
Here's the official box score.