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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Seen and Heard: Pac-12 Tournament

LOS ANGELES — Following Arizona’s 66-58 win against UCLA in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, there were no cheers of joy in UA’s Staples Center locker room.

Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg didn’t rejoice after combining to score 54 of Arizona’s 66 points and grabbing 27 of the Wildcat’s 39 rebounds.

After the game, Arizona head coach Sean Miller walked into the locker room and immediately told his players what to expect from Oregon State.

“You’re going to get a lot of open shots, so be ready,” Miller said to sophomore point guard Jordin Mayes.

There was no time to celebrate, no time to enjoy the victory.

Miller then sat in an empty room, no smile, no victory cigar, just a television with basketball streaming. His brain wasn’t filled with thoughts of, “How in the world did we out-rebound a massive UCLA team?” but instead, “How on earth can we stop Jared Cunningham and Ahmad Starks?”

Miller and his team understand the three-day grind of the Pac-12 Tournament. They know what it takes to win in March, as evidenced by their Elite Eight run a season ago.

They carried themselves in that exact manner after Thursday’s game. This wasn’t about beating UCLA, it’s about winning the Pac-12 Tournament and getting into the big dance.

“Man, we want to play in the NCAA Tournament no matter what,” Perry said. “I mean the NIT is great, but we want to play in the tournament. We want to make a run. We think we can be a sneaky team in the tournament.”

Nick Johnson agreed.

“Just me growing up as a kid, I’ve dreamed of going to the NCAA Tournament. We knew the ASU loss definitely hurt us, so we have to come here in win this thing.”

Familiar faces

– Gary Payton: “The glove” sat courtside with former NBA big man and Oregon State alum AC Green. Payton coaches and trains OSU guard Jared Cunningham, who Arizona will face on Friday in the semi-finals.

– Reggie Miller: Miller sat in media row to support his former UCLA Bruins. With UCLA out of the tournament, he most likely won’t be back Friday.

– Lute Olson: Arizona’s legendary head coach made the trip.

– Greg Byrne: The UA’s athletic director was also seen around shaking hands, as usual.

– Brent Barry: The former NBA sharpshooter and current analyst was hanging around Staples Center to catch the tournament action.

– David Bagga: The author and former Arizona walk-on was on media row and also attended the Wildcats’ post-game press conference.

– Rick Neuheisel: UCLA’s recently fired football coach was sitting in the stands watching his alma mater.

Quotable: Miller on Turner
“Well, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed for Josiah, and hopefully this last incident or lesson will really serve him well moving forward. But he’s one of us. He’s part of our program. Everybody here likes him an awful lot. Good people sometimes can make a bad decision or bad decisions and we’re hoping this is a lesson learned on his behalf.”

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