Among the few items of good news for the Arizona Wildcats in their loss Saturday to ASU, it was that center Chase Jeter may be pretty close to his normal self for the Pac-12 Tournament.
UA coach Sean Miller said he wouldn’t say Jeter was completely back, noting that Jeter didn’t get a single offensive rebound, but Jeter did get 11 points and four rebounds, hitting 3 of 4 shots and drawing seven fouls, taking eight trips to the free throw line (though he made only 5 of 8 shots).
“He did the best that he could,” Miller said. “I think you see he's not maybe rebounding as well as he did but the injuries and the games can really take a toll on a guy and getting him as healthy as we can for Wednesday is a big priority for us.
“We need him to play well and he had some good moments (against ASU). As a team we struggled to get him the ball sometimes, but when we did he had 11 points on four shots and Ira (Lee) the same thing — Ira had three early shots in the game and he didn’t get another one, which is not a good thing.”
The Wildcats were also playing late in the game without Brandon Williams and Justin Coleman, both of whom fouled out.
Miller blamed himself for Williams’ loss, putting him back in with four fouls when there was still 13:28 to go.
Williams fouled out 10 seconds later.
“It’s probably my fault for bringing Brandon Williams in the game at the time that I did,” Miller said. “A lot of times in these types of games you have to play to win, you have to roll the dice and give guys the opportunity to play with four fouls or play with two fouls in the first half.
“But Brandon has struggled with foul trouble since he's come off his injury. And not only did I put him in a game then, but I gave him a clear-out play on first play that he was in.
“My thought process was, you know, (ASU’s Luguentz) Dort was on their end, he had three fouls committed, his third before half time, and to be able to get a fourth foul on him that early or midway through the second half could have helped us but obviously we got a charge and Brandon fouled out.
In terms of Justin Coleman, who fouled out by committing a shooting foul on Remy Martin, Miller said:
“We had no choice but to leave him in. It wasn't even a press, 94 feet. Offensive foul, I mean, it is what it is.”
Coleman and Luther were the UA players brought in for postgame interviews, and both spoke highly about their experiences.
“God gave me a task the last five years (of college) and I feel like I completed that task finishing the regular season the way we did,” Coleman said. “I want to give credit to my brothers, my teammates, credit to this guy right here (Luther), an amazing player. I’ve gained brothers for life by joining this program and I'm very excited for the future of these guys.”
The Wildcats will face USC in their first-round Pac-12 Tournament game on Wednesday, having lost to the Trojans 80-57 on Jan. 24 when Jeter did not play because of a back injury suffered five days earlier against Oregon State.
Arizona had its worst shooting performance of the seasons (27.8 percent) against the Trojans, while hitting 5 of 25 3-pointers overall. The Wildcats were also outrebounded 51-39.
“We really struggled to score,” Miller said. “They're going to play a 2-3 zone and I think they have two or three players on their team are really, really good. Bennie Boatwright is outstanding.
"(Nick) Rakocevic is one of the most improved players in our conference and those guys they play with a lot of confidence. We’re not there yet but obviously we would have to attack their zone and be successful on that end for us to be able to beat them.”