UA-UCLA postgame: Wildcats believe they have momentum

2013-03-16T00:19:00Z 2013-03-16T12:37:08Z UA-UCLA postgame: Wildcats believe they have momentumBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 16, 2013 12:19 am  • 

Updated with links from some of the latest bracket predictions and ratings:

Arizona has an RPI of 14, a Sagarin rating of 24, and is 19 in Kenpom.

ESPN's Joe Lunardi moved Arizona down from a 4 to a 5, while CBS' Jerry Palm and SI's Andy Glockner have the Wildcats as a No. 4.

The Bracket Matrix says the Wildcats are averaging 4.36 in projected seedings.

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LAS VEGAS – So does this count as positive momentum for the Arizona Wildcats heading into the NCAA tournament?

Two close losses to UCLA, a home win over ASU, and a 10-point win over newfound rival Colorado.

“Definitely,” Nick Johnson said. “I feel we’ve done a lot of good coming in here and the practices before. Once we know our (NCAA tournament) seed and where we’re going we can keep on working to get better.”

Mark Lyons and Brandon Ashley were also encouraged, both indicating that fouling and other issues down the stretch changed the game.

“We played hard, that’s all that matters,” Lyons said. “If just a couple of calls go the other way, it could have been a different outcome. It was just tough fouls, miscommunication, just certain things we did and some things were out of our hands.”

Hill said some players “lost their heads” down the stretch while worrying about the officiating, and Ashley said the technical foul called on Sean Miller was tough to get past.

“It kind of messed up the flow of things and we couldn’t recover from that,” he said.

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The technical was only one of several UA problems in the second half, but Miller went out of his way to put that blame on himself.

In fact, five times during his podium interview, no matter what question was asked, Miller went back to how he cost Arizona the game.

“That’s completely on me,” he said.

When asked about the positives for UA in the game, Miller ended his answer this way: “We played well enough to win, but we just at the very end didn't have enough plays. Keep in mind now, I gave them two points. They didn't earn those two points. Me, I gave them two points. The score was 66‑64.”

When asked about UCLA’s second-half run, Miller ended his answer by noting: “They didn’t earn those two points. I gave them two points,” he said.

At the end of an answer to a question about UCLA’s post defense, Miller said: “Again, you've got to keep this in mind, I gave them two free throws.”

Here’s the entire transcript of the podium interviews by Miller, Solomon Hill and Brandon Ashley. 

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Even though Solomon Hill missed a potentially game-tying shot with five seconds left, the Wildcats said that was a shot they wanted him to take.

“Mark really came off the screen and tried to get to the hole,” Johnson said. “It clogged up a little and he tried to get it to me. I tried to get a drive, passed it to Solomon and he had a great shot.”

Hill said he wanted to redo the shot, thinking that Jordan Adams was leaving his feet and that he might have been able to draw a foul.

“I was thinking of going for a three,” Hill said. “I upfaked. I saw the time left on the clock (five seconds) and my best thing was get Jordan Adams off his feet and draw contact. Then I’d have the chance to take free throws.”

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Hill said the loss will be costly Sunday when NCAA tournament selections are made. Arizona would have been as high as a No. 4 seed if they won the Pac-12 Tournament – at least that was what Joe Lunardi said – but instead UA may fall 1-3 spots lower.

“It matters. More than anything,” Hill said. “This could be the difference between a seed or two and that could make a very big difference in trying to make a long run in the tournament. Instead of being a five, we could have been a three.”

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If the Wednesday-Sunday stretch of this Pac-12 season seemed odd, you might have to get used to Tuesdays and Fridays, too.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said before Friday’s games that the league will consider those two days in order to be more flexible for television windows. While there has been speculation the league might even break up its traditional “weekend” format and travel partners, Scott said all that is just now being considered.

Ultimately, Scott said he did not think there would be a dramatic change.

“We are now coming to the end of the basketball season, downloading and seeing what the tensions were in terms of attendance, pushback from fans, from alumni,” Scott said. “Each school is a little different in terms of when they like to play both in football and basketball. So we're taking that feedback and we're going to look at the possibility of tweaking.

“That could mean playing on another day to possibly alleviate some late start times for schools for whom that's a problem for, might not. But once we close the book on the season, we've already started gathering data. We get together with our basketball coaches and our athletics directors in May for kind of a postmortem on the season. A little forward-looking discussion, and that's exactly the kind of topic we'll do a deep dive on there.”

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Our full coverage today: A game story, sidebar on Jordan Adams, seen-and-heard notes,  Greg Hansen’s column on Miller, and a photo gallery.

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Here's the official box score.

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After putting away Utah, Oregon will face UCLA for the Pac-12 Tournament title at 8:02 p.m. on ESPN.

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Former UA interim head coach Russ Pennell is out at Grand Canyon.

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