2016 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament: Oregon, Arizona advance to semifinal despite flaws
LAS VEGAS – No matter the thickness of the Wildcats' coats or the mass of down on the Ducks, each teams' warts are showing as they prepare to battle.
Oregon defeated Washington and Arizona dropped Colorado on Thursday to set up a 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT semifinal matchup Friday in the Pac-12 Tournament. Neither team enters feeling exactly superb about their lead-in performances.
“We're in the semifinals against Oregon. Awesome job. We advanced. A lot of teams would have loved to. Or you can really say our effort level is as bad as I've ever seen in the last 20 minutes,” Miller said after his team beat Colorado.
“I choose to focus on the second one.”
Arizona jumped out to a 37-20 halftime lead while holding the Buffs to 26 percent shooting. Miller felt great entering the locker room but reminded his Wildcats they'd been a “one-half team” numerous times during the season.
Keeping with that trend, Colorado rallied, bullying the Wildcats on the glass for 25 offensive rebounds and 26 second-chance points. Tad Boyle's team came within a possession in the final minute before falling 82-78.
“I question our effort wholeheartedly in the second half,” Miller said of his team's win. “I think [the Buffaloes] scored 58 points in the second half. And their second shots, I mean, they shot 45 shots from the field in the second half, and we shot 17. I haven't been a part of a game like that.
“But our guys certainly did not play hard.”
It's bad news considering Arizona's next opponent also had a day on the offensive glass.
Oregon coach Dana Altman complained of offensive mistakes that he hadn't seen since November or December, but the Ducks overcame those issues by crashing the glass and rallying an early 12-point deficit against the Huskies. The problems came down to “guys feeling like they just had to make a play,” which led to nine assists and 14 turnovers for the Ducks, Altman said.
“Just going to have to slow down, move the ball much better, make plays for teammates,” the Ducks coach added. “Bad turnovers today, we didn't make very good decisions. We're going to have to clean that up.”
Recent history gives the Ducks a good chance against the Wildcats. Arizona fell to Oregon 83-75 earlier this season as the Ducks ended the Wildcats' 49-game winning streak at the McHale Center.
"They're just an excellent offensive team," Miller said of the Ducks. "They're disciplined with the way they play, but they get you in transition. They're also an outstanding offensive rebounding team. They take care of the ball. They have great balance."
There is, however, one key factor to that game.
The Wildcats were without guard Allonzo Trier, but will have the freshman Friday after he led Arizona with 23 points. Based on the fan attendance Thursday, Arizona will also have the advantage of the crowd.
“For our guys, we did a good job when we went down there,” Altman said, before joking, “I did tell them if we do have that opportunity, we'll only have 12,000 (Arizona) fans this time instead of 15, 16 (thousand).”