The No. 15 Arizona Wildcats bounced back from Saturday’s loss to Baylor by romping Nebraska-Omaha 99-49 on Wednesday in McKale Center.
Five different Wildcats scored in double figures, including Nico Mannion, who had 13 points and 11 assists. Our full recap can be read here.
Before Arizona shifts its focus to Saturday’s heavyweight bout against No. 6 Gonzaga, read what Sean Miller had to say after the win over Nebraska-Omaha:
Miller’s overall thoughts: “I’m really happy for our team. It’s not easy to bounce back when you don’t play well and you lose your first game of the season like we did at Baylor. I thought the response of our guys was tremendous. Not just tonight in our game but leading into the game. We didn’t point fingers and have to have multiple team meetings to pick up everybody’s spirit. We just we got to work, guys watched the film, we had two really good days of practice. I thought today with all the academic responsibility that they have, they showed up here ready to compete and and we took care of what we needed to. In fairness to Omaha, they were playing short-handed without their leading scorer and it’s always difficult when that happens, and they’ve been on the road quite a bit. But we’ll take it. We were able to, I think, do a number of things that we’re trying to be better at. And obviously, we have a big test on Saturday and that’s where we’re at now.”
Miller on Arizona’s rebounding struggles: “Our Achilles heel is rebounding. We’re not good enough defensive rebounding. We’re not a team that gets a lot of second shots. We’ve been at this for a while, but we have to block out. That’s up to us as a coaching staff. Everybody who plays basketball can block out. Our guards have to rebound better, but so do our bigs. Our starters as a group have to do a better job, so does our bench. It doesn’t fall blame on anybody. It’s the weakness of our team. And when you play a team like Gonzaga, who’s very good at getting second shots, they can really win the game and break your back when they can get those big second shots.
“Because when you get a second shot, it’s going to either be a high percentage 3 or 2. A lot of times you’re going to get fouled. And then the team who gets the most good shots wins. That’s a big advantage. So how many second shots teams get against us, I hope we can point towards less and less and less, but there’s no bigger key for our team on Saturday than to keep those guys off the offensive glass. I don’t think they get enough credit in that area. They can beat you up and they have two bigs in the game. They have wings who run in from the 3-point line and everybody on our team has to know that for us to have a chance, regardless of where we’re playing this game, we have to rebound the ball. And there are times tonight we did it well, better in the second half, but even in the first half, we gave up a couple that we shouldn’t and and that’s why it’s such an emphasis right now because we’re not good at it, we have to get better.”
Miller on Koloko: “Well, he’s somebody that really we notice. Not only did he have 10 rebounds but he only played 12 minutes and 50 seconds. So he had three blocks in 12 minutes at Baylor and then he followed that up with 10 rebounds here and got to the foul line four times. Again, he had four second shots, two of those he got fouled on, which is my point. But Christian is getting better. He’s improving. We’ve seen it before Baylor, and it’s nice that we can sprinkle him in. I think the role that he’s in right now is a big one. He gives us a shot blocker. He gives us another guy that can commit fouls. And Christian has good hands. He’ll catch it and score as well. So it’s nice to see him doing well, it really is. He’s worked very, very hard since he came on our campus in June.”
Miller on Koloko’s role when Stone Gettings returns from a concussion: “We’re just not there yet. I don’t know that. And we got our fingers crossed that Stone continues to make progress. He’s not symptom free. He might be before Saturday, but it’s too early to tell whether he’d be able to play on Saturday. I think maybe the more likely game would be the following Saturday, but he is making a lot of progress. So I wouldn’t rule anything out for this weekend.”
Miller on Zeke Nnaji finally making his first career 3 after four misses: “If he’s open, he can make that shot. He’s shown that he can and he’s needed one to go in and tonight it was nice to see him make one.”
Miller on Nnaji not as producing as much as the beginning of the season: “We want him to continue to be aggressive. The one thing that he was doing a great job of early on was he was just like a lion going after the ball on the offensive glass. He hasn’t done that as well and sometimes when you get post trapped or you have a turnover on the first play, it was a tough call, it can steal your mind as a young player. And I think one of the things we’re on him about is to stay aggressive, to slow down, to not panic when he gets post trapped because he’s a very good passer and I think he’s going to be fine. I really believe that.”
Miller on Gonzaga: “They sub their bigs, they have some really, really good ones. (Filip) Petrusev has turned into an outstanding player, like a lot of their frontcourt players over the years. But for them, it’s never one player, it’s always a team, and the best team is going to win. And what I mean by that is it’s not superlatives of who played well, individually. Gonzaga does not beat themselves and we’ve played him six times since I’ve been here, every game their style is virtually the same. The faces change, but they have a way of playing they believe in, they have great coach, and the other thing about them is they’re battle tested. Guys on their team, they’ve played in the (NCAA) tournament, they’ve played against the best, they’ve played on away courts. You’re not going to spook them. They’re going to do what they do. And, for us, we’re not as familiar with each other as they are but playing the game at home and some of the growth I hope we’ve experienced over the last month will allow us to play a great game because we really have to play a great game to beat them. If we don’t, we won’t be good enough.”