After 24 games, the last five of which have been losses, the Arizona Wildcats took two days off to recover.
Physically and, maybe more so, mentally.
“We had two days off just to kind of get away,” center Chase Jeter said during Tuesday’s weekly news conference. “We’re gonna recoup back here today and try to get everybody on the same page and try to keep everybody positive.”
UA coach Sean Miller said he’s reviewing both negative (last weekend) and positive (probably before Los Angeles) game video with his players in an attempt to teach and restore confidence.
“I think it's just making sure we’re meeting with a number of our guys and getting them back on track,” Miller said. “Confidence is a problem when you lose. I don’t know if there’s ever been a real confident team when things aren’t going well but the way to get back on track is to get back to the task at hand, have a good day of practice, string couple of good days of practice together and then approach the game and be the best that we can be.”
Among those who appeared to lack confidence last weekend: Brandon Randolph, who shot a combined 3 for 20 against Washington and Washington State.
Randolph remains the Wildcats’ leading scorer in all games (14.1) but is now shooting just 30.9 percent in Pac-12 games, including a 26.5 percent mark from 3-point range.
“We’re talking to him,” Miller said. “Brandon is a very good player. … He’s a very hard worker. (It’s) being consistent with how he shoots the ball and that’s something that all young players learn.
“Allonzo Trier is a great example. He’s a driver, a capable shooter (early in his UA career) but he worked so hard on his shooting and then he worked hard on how to be smart on the way he worked on his shooting. He had a routine. His footwork was identical on every shot that he shot. And he didn’t deviate from it and over time that works out.
“Brandon in that same process of learning now important it is to shoot the ball one way before and after practice and then shot selection is big, too. The more wide-open shots you take, the higher percentage that you can make and you forget how young of a guy he is, and the experience level playing against these different defenses.
"This is his first time through it. I think every time you face different types of defense and you get through conference seasons you learn and you grow. I think he’s very much in that learning and growing aspect. It’s different to come off the bench on a talented team and be the starter, the player playing the most minutes. You’re kind of the hunted on the other team’s scouting report. They’re going to go to great lengths to make things hard for you. That’s also something he’s learning and we’re trying to help him with.”
Miller said Brandon Williams will make the mountain trip this week but will remain out with his injured right knee, saying again that he hoped Williams could return at some point this season.
"He is getting better," Miller said. "It’s incrementally, not like night and day, but he is making progress which is a good sign for him. I don’t have a timetable on when he’ll return. It’s going to be sometime down the road, if at all."
Miller referred to the injury Ryan Luther suffered against Iowa State in the Maui Invitational as a “broken finger.” When it first happened, Miller called it a minor injury to his non-shooting hand and offered no specifics.
The categorization is somewhat similar to how UA called Derrick Williams’ broken pinky a “sprain” until the end of the 2010-11 season despite a heavy wrap on it. UA officials later said they were trying to protect Williams from opponents who would've gone after the injury.
Luther played through his injury, though he was less effective against Gonzaga and Auburn in Maui, and has worn tape on his hand.
“He played through the injury really from the time that it happened all the way to the end,” Miller said of Luther. “I don’t think he missed a day of practice but he was limited in what he had to do.”
During his press conference Tuesday morning in Salt Lake City, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak discussed how the Utes are 1-13 against UA since joining the Pac-12.
This despite Arizona beat Utah in overtime last month, by one point at McKale Center last season, and even after the Utes erasing UA’s 15-point lead in the second half last season at the Huntsman Center.
"We've got to do whatever we can to get our second win in eight years," Krystkowiak said.
Krystkowiak also said the “euphoria” of the Utes’ stunning comeback win at UCLA has worn off.
"I was blown away with the energy and attention to detail our guys brought to practice,” he said, noting that teams coming off such a win normally feel like they're simply riding a "magic carpet."