UA-Miami postgame: Wildcats anxious for SDSU

2012-12-24T01:54:00Z 2012-12-24T13:00:26Z UA-Miami postgame: Wildcats anxious for SDSUBy Bruce Pascoe, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Updated to note that Arizona has moved up to No. 3 in the AP Top 25, behind only Duke and Michigan. The Wildcats are tied for No. 3 with Louisville in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

That's still the highest UA has been ranked since it was No. 3 on Jan. 5, 2004. The Wildcats lost to Stanford at home after that ranking and finished the regular season ranked No. 22.

The Wildcats haven't been ranked No. 2 in either poll since 2002-03 when they were No. 1 much of the regular season (they lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight that season).

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Oregon State's Eric Moreland has been named the Pac-12 player of the week after posting two double-doubles last week. UA has not had a player receive the honor yet this season, which is probably a result of the Wildcats' balance.

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HONOLULU – Kevin Parrom may be from New York but he’s fully vested in what is becoming one of the West’s biggest basketball rivalries.

As a freshman, Parrom went to San Diego with the Wildcats for a 63-46 smacking by the Aztecs. The teams didn’t meet in 2010-11 but SDSU rattled off a 21-4 run in the first half at McKale Center last season en route to a 61-57 win over the Wildcats.

Parrom can’t stand the memory.

“I know every time we’ve played them, we lost,” Parrom said, “so Christmas is going to be a nice little present for them. I want to get that win.”

Both teams have been dominant this season -- San Diego State has won 11 straight since losing to Syracuse on an aircraft carrier in the first game of the season – but the Aztecs have had more overall success in recent years.

 “Their program stands for itself,” Miller said. “I’ve only been in the West for four years but during my time there’s no program that’s thrived more than San Diego State.”

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For the first five minutes Sunday, Miller might have wondered if the Wildcats would get a crack at the Aztecs. The Wildcats had four turnovers and four fouls in the first five minutes, with two fouls by Brandon Ashley.

But they had only 10 turnovers from there until they gave up a final two in garbage time.

“We were playing hard,” Miller said. “We were putting in a good effort and playing against a good team. We seemed to settle in from that point.”

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The most noticeable area of production: The Wildcats dominated the boards, with Kaleb Tarczewski grabbing 13 of the Wildcats’ 46 rebounds while Miami had just 20 (although Miami was missing starting center starting center Reggie Johnson, who injured his hand in practice Friday).

“He did a great job,” Miller said of Tarczewski. “It’s very difficult to rebound at the level he rebounded at both offensively and defensively. I felt there was a lot of contact on a lot of his shots inside. Ending with eight points, I would have loved to see him be in double figures.

“He’ll continue to develop there but his defense and his rebounding on offense and defense were a big reason we won the game. He was dominant in terms of his effort level on the glass.”

Tarczewski’s 13 rebounds tied his season-high set on Dec. 1 at Texas Tech, in a game when rebounding wasn’t quite as critical.

“We knew that we had to come out strong in that area,” Tarczewski said after Sunday’s game. “We knew they had some athletic guys in the frontcourt, so we were looking to come out strong and rebound. That’s what we tried to focus on in the game. The balls were kind of coming to me.”

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Tarczewski had just one of many good performances by the Wildcats. Mark Lyons made 7 of 12 shots en route to a team-high 19 points, Kevin Parrom had 11 points off the bench, Grant Jerrett had five points and two rebounds and Angelo Chol had three points and three rebounds.

The Wildcats had five different players hit three-pointers in the first half alone, and received 22 points from their bench, 15 in the first half. Miami had one point from its bench the entire game.

“That’s outstanding,” Miller said of the 15 bench points before halftime. “It was a total team effort….. It was one of our better performances of year and it came at the expense of a good team who is obviously missing one of he better players but they’re still a very good team.”

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Lyons played like he was having fun on the court Sunday, saying he was never concerned about the Wildcats’ 18 turnovers in the previous game against East Tennessee State.

“We won by 20 (against ETSU), so I don’t feel like we struggled at all,” Lyons said. “We felt good about it.”

Lyons played 30 minutes against the Hurricanes, making 3 of 7 threes, dishing four assists and turning the ball over three times. He displayed as much confidence as he has yet with the Wildcats.

“He has a great belief in himself and he can really shoot the ball,” Miller said. ”He also has a competitive nature that can be contagious. There’s no question he set the tone from the outset.”

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Miller said Saturday that it was difficult to win when your point guards have nine turnovers – Lyons had four and Jordin Mayes had five against ETSU --- but was pleased with the way his guards took care of the ball and defended against Miami.

Lyons had three turnovers while Mayes had just one in 13 minutes. And along with Nick Johnson, the Wildcat guards kept Miami guards Shane Larkin (10 points) and Durand Scott (15 points but 4 of 11 shooting) relatively in check.

“When we take care of the ball better some of the things we have as strengths really show up,” Miller said. “We’re a physical team. We rebounded the ball really well.

"We got contributions out of a lot of players and I thought Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons really embraced the challenge of playing against a backcourt as heralded and rightly so as Miami’s. Shane Larkin and Durand Scott are a handful and I thought from an offensive and a defensive perspective, our guys were really ready.”

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Our coverage today: A game story, a notebook with Miles Simon's thoughts on UA, and seen-and-heard notes. (All of these stories were filed before postgame interviews concluded so the bulk of the postgame comments are in this blog thread above).

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Here's the official box score.

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