Win 300 will have to wait for Sean Miller.
The frustration on Sean Miller’s face was very evident, and of course, so were his comments in Arizona’s post-mortem press conference.
And not because he failed to reach win No. 300 at Arizona in his 12th season, but because he had just witnessed another close game gone awry in UA’s 63-61 loss. Arizona is now 14-7 overall and 8-7 in the Pac-12.
There was that failed defensive effort on Chris Duarte who hit a 3-pointer for the game-winner with 17 seconds left.
And, Arizona, the best rebounding team in the Pac-12 Conference, got beat on the boards 38-30 at home, no less. Miller said Arizona didn’t bring his team’s identity to the game and let a team “throw you out of the way.”
Miller said, “they beat us up on the glass” and got too many second shots.
“They were more physical, nastier tougher team,” Miller said.
Miller said the Ducks, one of the better teams in the conference, were more physical, got those second shots and didn’t defend enough.
“There are no excuses, you have to win close games,” Miller said. “Every losing team has their story. You lose this one by one point, you lose this one by two points, there’s a reason why you lose – it’s because you get your ass kicked.”
That was the second time he’s said that in nine days, after losing to Utah in a game that wasn’t close.
Additionally, it was Arizona’s second loss by one possession this season and second in a week, having lost to Colorado, 82-79, last week. It was a game a little similar to last week in as much as UA fell behind early and then had to recover to make it again.
And it did, taking the lead late and with just about a minute left before Oregon’s Duarte hit the 3-pointer for the difference.
Arizona failed to get a shot off in the possession after but did have a chance when Kerr Kriisa, with 1.1 seconds left, was able to get a shot – a contested one – at the top of 3-point line that missed to the right.
Miller said the first option was to possibly get Azuolas Tubelis a shot at the basket but that wasn’t available.
So, with Kerr being the team’s best screener and Saturday’s best shooter – he went 4 for 9 from beyond the 3-point line – was called upon. “He did a good job, popped out, caught it but unfortunately missed it,” Miller said. “It was contested.”
Which, then turned Miller’s attention to his team’s defense on the shot Duarte hit that, well, wasn’t contested. And he wasn’t happy about it.
“When you’re in the final minutes of games you can always win with challenged, contested shots,” Miller said. “It’s kind of head-scratching moment … even though they ball fake and move and it was team play you want to contest that. If he makes a contested shot, which he probably would have, that’s fine. He can’t be wide open.”
As for not being able to get a shot off way before the possession with 1.1 seconds left, Miller said, “I have to do a better job.”
That was the second time, he’s said that in two weeks. And thus, the second loss in a week’s span.
Be sure to catch Steve and Jay Gonzales on Fox Sports 1450’s Eye on the Ball weekdays at 3-5 pm.