SALT LAKE CITY — While Arizona coach Sean Miller spoke highly of Alex Barcello’s game against Utah on Thursday (12 points on 5-for-8 shooting), the Wildcats’ other highlight might have been during pregame warmups.
That’s when Brandon Williams participated fully.
“It’s a good sign in that he’s able to do something he wasn’t last week,” Miller said, “but in terms of his ability to play at any point we don’t know yet.”
Still, Williams’ ability to go through warmups, with some running and elevation, indicated he might try to return at some point soon instead of shutting it down for the season.
“I think he right now is further along than he was two weeks ago but if I knew when he’d be able to play I’d tell you,” Miller said. “There’s really not a timetable. It’s kind of on his pain tolerance, doing more and it not swelling the knee, doing more and him not establishing pain. We’re in the middle of that.
“But we can’t control that. As much as we’d love to have Brandon, as much as Brandon would love to be out there, he’s not. We’re a better team with him.”
Miller spoke of a pretty big differential in Utah’s physicality, especially after Utes 7-footer Jayce Johnson scored 17 points in the second half Thursday.
“We had a good couple days of practice on the heels of last week and I thought we came into the game ready to go,” Miller said. “That was evidenced I would say, for 28 or 30 minutes of the 40. But that other 10-minute segment, we were overwhelmed by Utah’s execution, shooting and physicality. They’re the bigger, stronger team and that really showed as the game wore on.
“Our guys fought to the end and I thought the last four minutes of the game was a good segment for us. Instead of the score going one way we kind of brought it back and really got it to single digits. I credit Utah. They had a great second half, they broke the game open. If you really watched the game closely, their advantage in strength, size, physicality, is certainly overwhelming and they overwhelmed us.”
Barcello was the player Arizona chose for postgame interviews, and he spoke of the Wildcats’ determination in the second half.
“We’re gonna battle to the end,” Barcello said. “Arizona is a great program and it’s never been known for giving up so that’s what we’re going to carry on. We're gonna continue to work our butts off and get better and that was the energy we had. We weren’t going to give up. We were going to keep battling however the game was going.”
Arizona’s six straight losses is the longest since Lute Olson lost six straight during his first season with the Wildcats in 1983-84.
The Wildcats opened that season with a 72-65 win over NAU and then lost to Cal State Fullerton at home, at Providence, at Iowa State, to Pan American at home, at San Diego State, and to Tennessee at home before beating Texas Tech in overtime on Dec. 27, 1983 at McKale.
A seventh straight loss on Saturday at Colorado would equal UA's longest streak since Ben Lindsey lost 15 straight in 1982-83.
Our full coverage from Utah and updated stats/box score are attached to this post.