The one common thread to Arizona’s historic five-game losing streak – or excuse, depending on how you view it – has been the absence of Chase Jeter for the first two games and Brandon Williams for the last three.
“The thing I worried the most about before we got started this season is an injury to a key player or a couple of injuries,” Miller said. “That’s not the entire story but the firepower that Brandon Williams is able to bring us, the depth that we have with him versus without him and equally the roles that a couple of players have now that wouldn’t have if he were with us.
“He’s a backup point guard; we can rest Justin Coleman. He’s one of our team’s best shooters. He can score. He can get to the basket, and he has a way to create to get others shots. We miss that right now. Couple of weeks ago when we were in L.A. without Chase, we don’t have enough size or depths up front to play a 40 minute game and we kind of felt that when we were in L.A. We have to keep working and do a better job as we approach the next game, the next day, the next week.”
While Jeter was present Saturday, he was scoreless on 0 for 4 shooting. Jeter missed a number of close-in shots, including a hook from five feet out.
Miller said WSU’s man-to-man defense – and the general lack of confidence involving nearly all UA players at the moment -- had something to do with it.
“We don’t have a lot of confidence right now,” Miller said. “It kind of surprised me that Washington State played man-to-man from start to finish. That’s not really what they’ve done in the past but they sensed that their plan was working.
“And they did a good job limiting Chase. They trapped him when he caught it and when he didn’t catch it, it was a lot because they made it difficult for him to get position. Some of it is us where you have to be able to get it to him in that brief window when he’s open but some of it Washington State deserves a lot of credit. They came in here, not only beat us but left with a road sweep and in the Pac-12, road sweeps are really hard to get.”
Miller said there were a “number of players in that boat” with confidence lacking particularly after two off shooting nights in a row. But Brandon Randolph was the only one who shot poorly for both games this week: He was 2 for 13 against Washington and 1 for 7 against WSU, for a 15-percent mark on the week.
Ryan Luther was 4 of 12, but all of his shots were 3-pointers, while Devonaire Doutrive was 3 of 11 over the two games, missing inside shots as well as two 3-pointers against WSU but also posted his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday.
As it turns out, Doutrive may be the only one of the Wildcats playing with some sense of confidence right now.
Asked about his performance afterward, Doutrive said:
“My role is to go out there and do what I do, which is to play defense, rebound, just do what the team needed, but we obviously didn’t get the win.”
Miller foreshadowed the Wildcats’ poor weekend when he said after the Wildcats lost at ASU on Jan. 31 -- the first game Williams missed -- that “it’s going to be hard for us to win a game with the limitations that we have at the moment.”
Asked about that comment after Saturday’s game, and whether he felt he foresaw things even such as a home loss to WSU, Miller said:
“What I really said is that in a situation that we’re in, there’s every team that’s on our schedule is capable of beating us if we’re not at our best, and vice versa,” Miller said. “I think if we are at our best, we’re playing really well, we’re capable of beating each of our remaining opponents. I felt that way about tonight. I felt that way about Washington and I’ll feel that way next week when we’re in the mountains.
“In our current circumstances, we’re vulnerable. Any team that’s on our schedule certainly can beat us and if we play really well as evidenced by maybe our play at ASU, we’re capable of winning any game, I think that’s really what I said but that’s OK.”
Doesn’t look like Utah or Colorado will be easy for the Wildcats to beat.
The Utes pulled out a comeback win at UCLA on Saturday while Colorado pulled off only its second Pac-12 road sweep since joining the league in 2011-12.
Our game coverage is attached along with the box score and PDFs of updated stats.