SEATTLE – Almost nothing was going right with Arizona’s offense on Thursday at Washington, except for one thing.
Center Kaleb Tarczewski had nine points and four rebounds in the first half, finishing with 10 and eight rebounds, after he had 10 and seven rebounds on Saturday against USC.
“In a quiet way, Kaleb has put together the two best games of his career,” Sean Miller said. “His presence on defense helps us a lot, like Aziz (N’Diaye of Washington). And all of a sudden, for him to score 10 points really helps us, especially on a night like tonight.”
There may be more nights like Thursday, Miller indicated.
“I think it shows where maybe he’ll one day be,” Miller said. “Maybe that day is still this season because he’s doing some things this week or last week that we really haven’t seen on a consistent basis.”
Tarczewski has had some of his best games while matched up with comparably sized big men such as N’Diaye.
“It’s getting better,” Tarczewski said. “Everyone on my team is getting me in position where I can get the ball and score or get fouled. And I like going against guys my own size.”
“He’s probably more comfortable against the other team‘s big guys,” Miller said. “But I just think in general he’s getting better. You watch him very day, and he’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever been around. He deserves success.”
Solomon Hill said UA’s early offensive struggles were like “the UCLA deal,” where players were forcing too much individually in an effort to get off to a good start. UA shot 1 for 13 to start out at UCLA; on Thursday they had seven turnovers in the first eight minutes.
“We have to learn how to trust each other,” Hill said.
The good news for UA was that the Wildcats had only five turnovers in the second half, when Hill said the Wildcats wore the Huskies down. Miller said the Wildcats also were smarter with the ball during that stretch.
“I’m sure Washington’s pressure isn’t going to be as good late in the game as it is early, but we made better decisions on our end,” Miller said. “Sometimes you think it’s always the coach controlling the final possession but you can’t do that.
"Through the possession and games, players learn to play with each other and off each other and learn to create shots without the coach. Things that we talk about but not necessarily a set play. That’s the area we have to keep getting better at.”
Overall, though, Miller said having only five turnovers in the second half is “about as well as you can do” at a place like Washington.
“Because believe me they pressure you and they have great athletes, and the crowd’s into the game,” Miller said. “So you look at those last 20 minutes and I think we leave here feeling really good.
Miller said the Wildcats need to play with 12 or less turnovers a game in order to do the "special things" they want to this season.
“We have to be more consistent in that area," he said, "and our offense has to continue to develop.”
The Wildcats remain tied with ASU in second place a game behind Oregon but Miller said it isn’t easy yet to focus on the rest of the conference.
“What you hope is that you can control your timeframe all the way to the end and obviously tonight’s road win was a big step in that direction,” Miller said. “Our conference is very good. There’s no one who should be beating our conference up right now. There’s quality depth, great coaches and a number of teams who can get to the postseason and advance… and Washington is one of them. If they put it together, they’re certainly capable.”
Coverage from Washington media:
Percy Allen of the Seattle Times has a breakdown of the game, including an explanation for the bizarre sight of Aziz N'Diaye firing up a three-pointer on the Huskies' last possession.
Times columnist Steve Kelley says the Huskies need to learn to win ugly.
Todd Dybas of the News Tribune says UW's season may be starting to head off the rails.
Here's the official box score.
Jason Gardner is this year's former Wildcat to enter the Pac-12 Hall of Honor.
Ken Bone says the Cougars just couldn't stop ASU's Jahii Carson.
Mike Montgomery lit into the Bears when they were down by 11, and it paid off in Cal's comeback win over Oregon State.
Joe Burton says it was another knock out punch for the Beavers, who are now 1-7 in Pac-12 play.