Arizona was able to come back from 11 down on Thursday night to beat Duke and Arizona coach Sean Miller believes it was a complete team effort.
"Well, obviously we beat the defending national champions, and to me the great program of this tournament; and anytime you do this, it takes extraordinary effort collectively, and that's what we experienced here today," Miller said.
Arizona played as a completely different team in the second half and Miller believed that keeping the game close was key to the win.
"I really felt like it was two different games," he said. "The first half, Derrick's individual play allowed us to have a chance. I mean he scored 25 points in one half. Made five 3s in one half. We were down 6. We could have had a huge deficit at halftime, but he gave us a chance."
For Arizona, the weaknesses in the first half were obvious and something that needed to be addressed if the Wildcats were going to win.
"We talked at halftime about taking care of the ball and moving on offense, driving with intelligence when we go, and most important they had 11 points on second shots in the first half, and Duke is hard enough to deal with on the first shot, when you give 'em second shots you almost don't have a chance," Miller said.
"The one huge turnaround in the second half and that was like a second game, we were a total team. We were rev'd up. We had a lot of guys playing at a very high level, and we rebounded. At the end of the day, 40 rebounds for Arizona, 27 for Duke and a lot of that happened in the second half."
Lamont Jones finished with 16 points, six assists, and no turnovers and believes that much of the success in the second half had to do with effort.
"I mean, when you are out there playing you're just out there playing," Jones said. "It's not about the name on the Jersey, it's about how hard you play. It could have been anybody tonight who was up by 4 and we came out and played the way we did in the second half and we were up 11.
"We just came out and played hard. We played Arizona basketball, and we did what coach asked of us. Whatever coach asks of us is right and it showed again tonight. He asked us to play defense, rebound and play hard-nosed and we came out in the second half and did it and won by 16 points."
As far as Solomon Hill goes, he believes a key was the fact that Arizona had more depth and balance than Duke.
"When you have a group of guys that can all go out there and get it done, everybody can get on the same page," Hill said. "They have two guys that they expect to be able to play at the same level for 32 minutes.
"I don't know anybody that can do that, but when you have a group of guys that can come in and play with the same capabilities and open things up for the five man, which was Derrick, you want to execute, and every possession can be your last and even our senior Jamelle played, and I don't think his first half was the way he wanted to play and the second half he came out and played his butt off, and we got the "W."
Miller was quick to agree, as players besides Williams stepped up in a big way.
"I mean, night in and night out, everybody does it," Miller said. "Like I said before, Derrick is a great player, but we all contribute to everything, you know? Derrick is just a phenomenal player, but we have other good players on this team that come in and work hard night in and night out and give great effort.
"Solomon Hill has been playing, I think, some of the greatest basketball that he's ever played in his two years at Arizona. Jesse Perry came out and maybe didn't have a great offensive night, but rebounded the ball, so did Kevin. And any given night any given player on our team can come out and give it to you in different ways."
In addition, Miller believes that a win on Thursday helps continue the tradition that Lute Olson helped start.
"It's special, but, you know, the credit of our program -- and I heard Coach K. talk about it being a "brand", Arizona being a "brand" the teams that Olson developed were the two decades worth of excellence, and Luke Walton was at our game here tonight, every time you turn the television on, in an NBA game, many times you have a player on both teams playing that's from Arizona," he said. "Our job as a new staff is to continue that.
"In some cases maybe to restore it, to rebuild a little bit, to change things with a little bit of a different personality but when you go to McKale Center there is 14,500 people and there is not a better home court in the country, and the love of the game in Tucson started a long time ago and we're taking advantage of that, and that's one of the reasons that young people like these three decided to come to Arizona when we became a new staff."
UA happy with toughness in win
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