The Arizona Wildcats finally secured their first road win Thursday, staving off the Washington Huskies 75-72 in Seattle.
Our full recap can be found here, additional takeaways can be found here, and below is what UA head coach Sean Miller said afterwards.
On finally getting a road win: “I mean, it’s a big difference when you win versus when you lose, that’s why I think for us we can’t panic. We lost a heartbreaker at Oregon in overtime by one and certainly the last game that we played (at ASU) was a tough game, but sometimes you have to give the opponent credit as well. And tonight the game could have gone either way and we made a few plays down the stretch. But Washington made 14 3s and man it’s hard to win a game when the team makes 14. I thought they had a great night from the 3-point line. Some of the ones maybe we could have contested better, but there was some other ones that they they made the shots. But to our guys’ credit we kept playing all the way to the end. And I’m sure some of our recent experiences helped us do that.”
On the key to the win: “I think the biggest thing that won us the game though, when you play Washington, especially here you have to take care of the ball, and that’s easier said than done. They use their defense to create transition opportunities and we played the whole second half with two turnovers and we 10 for the game. If you take out the first four minutes, we played about 36 minutes against their zone with six, which is very impressive. And then our defensive rebounding was really good. I mean, percentage-wise it’s really our third game in a row we’ve done a good job. I think there was that one 50-50 play there in the second half where it kinda reminded me of some of the games we’ve been in where the ball bounced a couple times, and they ended up getting it. That’s plagued us. But for the most part, the two things we really wanted to do—rebound and take care of the ball—we did.”
On holding UW freshman Isaiah Stewart to 9 points on 3-of-13 shooting: “(Our defense) was excellent on him. Unfortunately the other guys and he made one (a 3) as well, But he’s a load. He’s a great player. They do a really good job of getting him the ball. But I thought our guys did a good job against him. You know, the irony of it, that’s not why they made 14 threes. It wasn’t like we gave something up. Their 3s were hard-earned and good shots. It didn’t really have anything to do with what we were doing against him, but if we would have given him a big night plus their 3s, there’s no way we could have won.”
On outlasting Washington: “Like them, we’ve been in some really hard fought battles...and I know that the narrative becomes, ‘Hey, you gotta win on the road.’ I understand that but you get in these games, eventually you’re going to be able to punch one out, and I really give our team a lot of credit for playing all the way to the end. Jemarl Baker was really big for us, a guy who didn’t start who can really shoot the ball and I thought his 3-point shots were obviously timely as well.”
On playing in Seattle: “The one thing about our guys is this is the first time they’ve ever been here, to this arena minus two of them. We only had two guys that really have ever been here before, Ira and Dylan. And the role that those two guys had two years ago was minimal. So part of us is just getting experience, being on the road, unfortunately learning through failure, learning through hardship, and it’s nice for our team. I’m really happy for them that they were able to learn tonight and we could point to a lot of good things.”
On Saturday’s game at Washington State: “Washington State is a very, very good team and they’ve had a lot of success at home. I mean, they’ve, moved through our league. I think USC is the only team that’s beaten them in Pullman, right? And they played last night, they have a really good coach, we respect them a great deal. I’ve watched them from afar and now it’s up to us to hopefully take some of this momentum and bring it to the next game.”