• Miller and Players Talk About OSU Victory

    Contributing Writer
    Martin Hayvush

    Arizona is still adjusting to life without their star power forward, Brandon Ashley, who is lost for the season due to foot injury. But in Arizona's 76-54 win over Oregon St, head coach Sean Miller said he saw the team grow.

    “We were more confident on offense. We are learning that defensively, minus someone as long as Brandon Ashley is, there are a few things that we have to get better at," Miller said.

    One reason Arizona has been able to cope with the loss of Ashley has been the increased production of freshmen Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon. Gordon led Arizona over Oregon St with 17 points, while Hollis-Jefferson chipped in 16.

    “If you look at their stats, Rondae and Aaron combined 14‐25, 4-6 at the line, combined for 10 rebounds, 33 points and four assists, three turnovers, three steals and one block," Miller said "For the 60 minutes that they played, they were very productive.”

    Gordon keyed in on rebounding as a point of emphasis before the game.

    “Every time we go out and play, coach always talks about our identity, and our identity is offensive and defensive rebounding," Gordon said. "I haven’t been blocking out well lately, so I took it upon myself to block out well today.”

    Miller also pointed out that Arizona took care of the ball better than it has at previous times this season, and that the Cats' success has largely been derived from that.

    "We came into this game wanting eight turnovers or less," Miller said. "We had 15 assists and eight turnovers. If we take care of the ball and out‐rebound on offense and defense that is when we are at our best.”

    Oregon State's Roberto Nelson, among the best scorers in the country, was held to just 10 points on 3-12 shooting.

    “We knew Roberto Nelson would be more aggressive in the second half," Miller said. "They did a really good job in the second half. We did a good job as a team guarding. Our defense was intact. That’s why we won the game with the margin that we did.”

    Junior point guard TJ McConnell credited his teammates witha group effort in containing Nelson.

    “The bigs did a great job for us tonight, I have to give them a lot of credit. They helped when we got screened on the ball a lot," McConnell said. "It was a team effort on him and I think we did a good job.”

    While Nelson was quiet most of the night, Arizona's Gordon broke out of a recent funk in a big way. The springy freshman shot 8-12 from the field and hit his only three point attempt.

    “My defense got me going today, which it usually does," Gordon said after the win. "The three I hit gave me confidence too. I know I’m a capable shooter, and it was nice to see one go down for my confidence.”

    Another player that got a dose of confidence was senior Jordin Mayes, who had 9 points in just five minutes of action.

    “I felt good out there. I got to the free throw line a few times and was able to hit an open three. It gives me confidence to hit some shots," Mayes said. "I just want to go out there and play basketball, getting my teammates and hitting open shots.”

    Overall the win over Oregon St was a big step in the right direction for a team that is still trying to play itself into a rhythm after the roster got shaken up.

    “Anytime you can win like this in conference it feels good," McConnell said. "Oregon State is a good team, and I felt we were clicking on offense and defense tonight.”
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Wildcat Dad's Avatar
      Wildcat Dad -
      Props to Jordin. 9 in5 is awesome, we need you
    1. buzzard's Avatar
      buzzard -
      I was up runnin around my living room yelling "JORDIN MAYES HITS FROM DEEEEEP!! MAYES IS ON FIYAAAAHHHHH!!!"
    1. lsg_da_apache's Avatar
      lsg_da_apache -
      Loved it when the crowd was like:"Jordin Mayes! Jordin Mayes!" It is great to see him clicking again, brings back memories of the 2011 tournament.
    1. Papadeuce's Avatar
      Papadeuce -
      This was obviously a much better performance than we showed against Oregon and hopefully a start to another streak! Glad to see the team working together to solve some issues rather than falling back on hero ball.
    1. AztecWildcat's Avatar
      AztecWildcat -
      I'm happy the MOV is larger than the projected MOV for the game.

      This was what we were doing at first 18(ish) games for the season.

      Conference play is a grind and I think Rondae starting with increased minutes from York, and Pitts could possibly inject some new excitement into the players with larger roles.
    1. AzJunky's Avatar
      AzJunky -
      Mayes getting confident and playing a productive 5-10 minutes a game would do wonders for this team, come on Jordin! We all know you have game, lets see it
    1. Jeff's Avatar
      Jeff -
      It was nice to at last have a win whose outcome was never in doubt. The last few games have been harrowing.

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