Saying Austin Carroll did a “great job” as an acting assistant coach last season after Book Richardson was dismissed, Sean Miller again promoted the assistant basketball operations manager to fill in for Mark Phelps.
But, again, the Wildcats learned Thursday that there’s one thing they can’t live without: having center Chase Jeter on the floor.
Having already been notably absent in UA's blowout losses at USC and UCLA because of back soreness, Jeter played only 25 minutes because of foul trouble in the Wildcats’ 67-60 loss to Washington, fouling out with two minutes left and the Huskies up by eight.
He finished with 12 points, three rebounds, two blocks and three turnovers while Arizona’s defense slipped in the second half when it allowed Washington to shoot 58.3 percent after halftime.
“We definitely ran out of gas,” Miller said. “Part of it is we need Chase Jeter to be able to play and not get in foul trouble. He had maybe one or two tough calls but Washington, they do a good job of throwing the ball in the middle, and a couple of those tough calls or maybe 50-50 (calls), where maybe it’s a foul and maybe it isn’t.
“It really worked against our team because his minutes were limited at the beginning of the game and he was the one player on our team who can really score. We’re a better team when Chase was in there.”
Jeter, however, disagreed with the suggestion that the Wildcats wore down physically against Washington.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Jeter said. “I think at the end of the day, we’ve just got to be more tough. … We’ve just gotta be tougher and get stops down the stretch. We just gotta do better.”
Miller had plenty of praise for the defense of Washington and star disruptor Matisse Thybulle, who had five steals and five blocks to go along with 15 points.
“I know he was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year” last year, Miller said. “Assuming they go ahead and win this conference and you have to — a team that’s 10-0, assuming they’ll go ahead and win this conference — you have to reward one of those guys and, man, I tell you when you talk about forming an identity it’s really hard to not think of him because of, I mean, 10, steals and blocks together in one game.
"I think he’s averaging between six and seven (3.6 steals and 2.2 blocks in Pac-12 games entering Thursday) so he’s a tremendous player. And especially with (former UW coach) Lorenzo (Romar) being being here last year he’s also just a great kid and you can feel that when you watch him play. He’s an outstanding player.”
Asked how Thybulle's skills might translate to the NBA, Miller said:
“Well, defensively he’s fine. He’s a streaky shooter,” Miller said. “A lot like the other guys who leave and are successful in the NBA, those long wingspans … I think his wingspan is close to 7 feet and he can really defend. There’s always a place for a player like him because he can shoot and he’s not just a good defensive player. He’s a game changer.”
Not only did Thybulle appear to have a good time at McKale, but so did David Crisp (17 points and three assists).
I LOVE THIS TEAM! GREAT TEAM WIN IN A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT 😈 ALL GLORY TO THE MAN ABOVE 🙏🏽 HOPE YALL LIKED THAT ONE HUSKY NATION 🐺💜 LET’S KEEP IT ROLLIN! #10-0— David Crisp (@David_Crisp31) February 8, 2019
But the big surprise from the Washington schools came when the Cougars crushed ASU, the most unexpected Pac-12 result of the season so far.
Our full coverage and PDFs of the box score and updated stats are attached.