It is safe to say that Arizona grew on their trip to the big apple despite not winning both games and Sean Miller addressed the media on Monday and felt the same way.
"I look at New York City as a very good trip for us," explained Miller. "We wanted to win both games but anybody who won our Mississippi State game knows that that game could have gone either way. We had a number of opportunities in the second half on offense where you're down four, you're down two, you're down six in a one or more possession game and it takes execution and patience against a really good defensive team which Mississippi State is."
The first matchup saw the Wildcats hit 14 of 28 from downtown against St. John's and really shoot lights out for the entire game. Bench players played strong and the entire team played confident, which led to a late game surge to close it out.
Mississippi State proved to be a tougher opponent and Miller gives credit to the Bulldogs, but thinks that his team could have had a better showing.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," said Miller. "We took quick shots and we took ill-advised shots. Our shot selection and our patience didn't show the resolve of a well-seasoned team and that really, really hurt us. We only had eight field goals in the second half against Mississippi State. The silver lining is that we were still really right there until the last few minutes of the game to have a chance to win."
At 4-1, Miller and the Cats move on to their next opponent on Wednesday as they welcome the San Diego State Aztecs to Tucson. The Aztecs are 5-1 on the young season and have showed that they don't want to rebuild, but have as much of a successful year as they did last season.
"San Diego State is a great team," said Miller. "They are a NCAA tournament team and I'd imagine in their own conference that they would be right there to win it. Their conference is a very well respected conference. It amazes me with the number of players they lost from last year how seasoned they are so early this year.
"I watched them play at Baylor and we know that Baylor is one of the more talented teams in the country they had an opportunity to win that game which is their only loss. The beat an excellent Long Beach State team on Saturday, beat USC before that and I just think they have a number of players that can play in a lot of programs in our country. They are well coached and believe in what they do and to me it will be our biggest challenge of our young season."
The Aztecs feature some talented guards which will pose a challenge for the backcourt of Arizona as Jamaal Franklin, James Rahon, Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames have all had good starts to the season.
Franklin is leading the team in scoring so far with 18.0 points per game while Tapley is averaging 16.5ppg. If players like Kyle Fogg, Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes and Josiah Turner can have good games against San Diego State's guards then Arizona may have a chance to control this game.
But with a close loss only to a top ranked Baylor team, Miller thinks head coach Steve Fisher continues to do a great coaching job.
"Steve Fisher is to me one of the unheralded coaches in our game year in and year out he puts a good team on the court," said Miller. This will be a great challenge for us and an opportunity to beat just an excellent team in McKale."