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What Sean Miller, Nico Mannion, and Josh Green said after Arizona’s win vs. Pepperdine

NCAA Basketball: Long Beach State at Arizona Jacob Snow-USA TODAY Sports

The 14th-ranked Arizona Wildcats (7-0) survived a scare against the Pepperdine Waves (3-4) on Thursday, with Nico Mannion’s game-winning runner propelling them to a 93-91 victory to open the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim, California.

Our recap can be read here, and here is what Mannion, head coach Sean Miller, and Josh Green, who had a career-high 24 points, had to say afterwards. (All quotes via ESPN.)

Miller’s thoughts on Pepperdine and facing Lorenzo Romar: “All of us as coaches have friends that you have to coach against. It’s kind of like an old storyline, but in my case, I really hated when we had to play Pepperdine. [Pepperdine Head Coach] Lorenzo [Romar] is a great friend, and he was at Arizona during at a really tough time; he was like a gift from God. Learned so much from him, and I think we shared a lot of moments. You don’t want to play against that type of friend, but we had to do it tonight. I thought his team played great. 13 3’s and they’re an excellent free throw shooting team which sometimes doesn’t get enough credit for how good a team is. But when you shoot over 80 percent from the free throw line, and the way they shoot the ball and spread you out, they are a very difficult team to defend.”

Miller on Arizona’s performance: “We certainly weren’t at our best tonight, first time away from McKale. I thought the three freshmen were all outstanding in their own right, talking about Nico [Mannion], Josh [Green], and Zeke [Nnaji]. They also all three had many learning opportunities they learned tonight, being away from home, late-game situations, and some ill-advised turnovers. November is really an opportunity for every team to get better and learn and grow. If you can maybe steal a win, that’s maybe how I’d describe tonight, not that we didn’t deserve it, but that game could’ve gone either way. It makes it a little bit better to be able to learn these types of lessons from a game like tonight and still having won. Nico, what a great coast-to-coast play for a freshman. He shot like a true hook shot there at the end, but that’s who he is. He’s made a lot of game-winners in his day. That’s what great guards do. For him to take the ball full court like that and make that shot, it was a big moment for us.”

Miller on Josh Green’s three straight 3s midway through the second half: “I thought that gap is really what allowed us to win the game, but I thought we were going to be able to hold steady on that gap. Did I think they were going to go away? No. Did I think they were going to punch it out and take it all the way back to tied or one-possession game? I think we had more confidence in our ability to get a stop. One of the things our team needs to get better at is rebounding. We knew that before we showed up here. Tonight is another reminder that if you give teams second shots, a lot of bad things happen. Some of their best 3-point shots in biggest scoring possessions happened when they got more than one shot. They’re not a big team, but they’re scrappy and they hustle. We ended up rebounding but winning it by three when you have the size advantage we have isn’t good enough.”

Nico Mannion on his game-winner: “They ended up tying it up and I looked up at the clock and saw seven seconds, trying to go coast-to-coast. I know I wasn’t going to go and get a layup with the big guy on my left, so I just floated it up and it ended up going in.”

Mannion on finally playing a close game: “I think in the end it’ll be good for us. It’s good for us to learn a lesson from tonight, a lesson that’s still a win. We’re now 7-0 and we’ve handled six pretty well, but this 7th was difficult. It’ll be better for us to be able to handle adversity, knowing we have guys that are tough enough to battle.”

Mannion on what Arizona learned: “We didn’t rebound well; we got to rebound better. We have a good team with good size, and we have depth. We really shouldn’t have an issue with rebounding, but it’s been our Achilles’ heel so far this year. I think that’s been our biggest thing, we gave them quite a bit of second shots. They shot the ball really well; they were 13 for 27 from three. A lot of second shots and not being able to close out on shooters.”

Josh Green on his three straight 3s: “I’m just glad I came out and showed confidence. It’s been one of the things I’ve been working on. It was a big part, but it played well for the team. I hit those three 3’s, but we got back-to-back stops. It’s great that I those three 3’s, but we played great defense for those three possessions.”

Green on Dylan Smith: “That’s our veteran, so I think with his experience comes with plays like that. He hit those big 3s for us and that was huge for us. It just shows how experienced and composed he was, and we have a lot of respect for him.”