The Wildcats improve to 15-6 overall and 5-3 in the Pac-12 heading into next weekend’s homestand vs. USC and UCLA.
Our full recap of Saturday’s victory be found here, and here is what UA coach Sean Miller had to say on his postgame radio show.
Miller’s overall thoughts on the win: “This could have been our most complete game. Watching Washington State on film, and we had a lot of respect for them, CJ Elleby is a terrific player and he’s put it on a number of teams this year, especially here in Pullman. I thought our team did an outstanding job guarding him and we did an equally outstanding job guarding (Washington’s) Isaiah Stewart two nights ago, and that’s a sign of a good defensive team—when you can take what the other team does very well or a particular player that continuously produces, but against your team he doesn’t have that same type of night. And we had a really good team effort here tonight against Elleby.
“Sometimes you feel like you’re talking about things that aren’t exciting, but when you outrebound a team by 13, which we did, if you take care of the ball against the team that forces turnovers— we had six for the game—and defensively you’re in position and do a really good job on the other team’s best player, that type of effort will win no matter where the game is played, and you have a chance to win no matter who you’re playing. And tonight we actually missed probably more good looks than we’ve missed in a long, long time. Sometimes we’ve taken bad ones or couldn’t get good ones. Tonight, we had some great shots and we just didn’t have it. But it’s very rewarding to be able to turn the ball over six times, miss a lot of good looks, but yet be a good defense team where the other team doesn’t have that same chance to make a run at you. I’m very, very pleased with the effort of of our team.”
On the keys to all the switching on defense that frustrated Elleby and WSU’s offense: “Great concentration, you have to play with effort, you have to communicate. And to show you how much we’ve grown defensively, we had a very similar game plan against Oregon State in Corvallis three weeks ago. And when we got into the second half and our defense was away from our bench, we missed a few shots, had some turnovers, but it led to poor communication. We didn’t do a good job in the very areas we did well tonight. And consequently, if you remember I think [Oregon State] scored 13 of 16 from 2 in the second half to beat us. Sometimes you have to learn through failure and I really believe that some of our experiences we have learned (from).”
On only having six turnovers: “I watched Arizona State play this same team couple days ago. ASU has some terrific guards and they had 21 turnovers in this building. And it’s a big reason that Washington State beat them. For our team to follow that up and have only six, it took a lot of guys taking care of the ball and we had great effort across the board. In my mind, Nico (Mannion) continues to get better. He’s more of a complete player. He does it on defense, he’s rebounding the ball more, he understands concepts. Not that he didn’t before but in fairness to all these freshmen, it takes a little bit of time for them to master the nuances of the game. Experience still means something, and I believe that Nico (Mannion) is a more complete overall player here on February 1 than he would have been on January 1.”
Miller on Stone Gettings: “Stone Gettings has really given us a lot. He had 19 (points) and 12 (rebounds), and if the guy could ever make free throws...I mean, my goodness, he’d really be playing. But he’s a difference maker on our team.”
Miller on Gettings being more comfortable in his fifth straight start: “He’s way more comfortable and ditto for him with my comments about Nico. The more you practice, the more you play, the more experiences that you get. I think the more you just do play the game you love, you’re out there just playing instead of worrying or feeling like you’re you’re a robot, which that’s always the first feeling.... But as you learn and you get into a situation where you have more experience, the basketball part takes over.
“The other part for Stone, he didn’t have just your normal hit-in-the-head concussion. He had a facial fracture, a severe concussion. He not only missed games and practice, but he wasn’t even around our team for four weeks. The other part of that answer is it’s really great to see him healthy and overcome it, work his way through that very difficult time and then come out on the other side and, really as he settles in, this is a very good time for him to be playing with confidence.”