CORVALLIS, Ore. — In six games before Thursday, Brandon Randolph shot 26.7 percent from the floor. Then he changed his hair.
Going with short braids during Arizona’s 74-72 win over Oregon State on Thursday, Randolph shot 7 for 8 from the field. He grinned widely when asked how much the hairstyle had to do with it.
“Without a doubt, definitely,” Randolph said. Teammates “told me to never, never take the braids off.”
Seriously, though, Randolph said he was “kind of getting sick of his hair,” and his coach said his improved shooting also came partly via an assist.
That is, having Brandon Williams back. Randolph already put in a 4-for-10 game against Stanford last Sunday when Williams first returned, and Thursday’s game was another jump.
“I think it really takes a lot of pressure off him having another ball handler in the game,” Miller said. “Brandon Williams has a way of finding teammates, Justin Coleman does as well, those two guys that's really the thing they do well.
“I just think the another ball handler frees Brandon up more and, you know, when one one shot goes in it's amazing how all of a sudden you look a little different when you take those next shots and I think against Stanford, his world opened back up.
“Brandon’s been a good player for us for a long, long time. If you judge Brandon on the first 20 games, he was maybe the surest bet that we had. So, yeah, hopefully he can return, keep doing what he's doing. He’s worked hard he's never given in.”
However, Williams may not be there fully quite yet, if his foul-out after 20 minutes was any indication.
“He’s missed so much time that the fouling is something that takes a little bit of game experience to settle into,” Miller said. “He picked up his third on the last play in the first half, which in that case you just almost want to get out of the way, and then picked up his fourth on a play that he gambled on and he didn't need to.
“But he's missed time, he's a freshman, I will tell you. But it's a big difference to have him out there, and everybody sees that. He just gives us another scorer, makes us much more durable. You can play through foul trouble, you can play through fatigue, because you have another quality player.”
Arizona's win at OSU pulled Wildcats into a five-way tie for sixth place in the loss column, and a three-way tie for sixth by percentage. As of now, UA would be the No. 7 Pac-12 Tournament seed, opening against No. 10 Oregon but a lot is likely to change, of course.