Miller continues to see players mature

Sean Miller continues to see his players mature. Read on for his thoughts on that maturity, how it showed against Utah, and more.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller continues to see his team mature and get better as the season goes along.

Nick Johnson may be a junior, but he is just one of the players that continues to improve.

"Nick Johnson is playing as well as any guard in the country," Miller said. "It's simple. The reason we're number one and in so many big games that he has had, he has done it in the biggest moments.

"He's terrific and I'm not even talking about offense. I am talking about leadership, playing more than one position, defending the other team's best perimeter player, he's a heck of a player right now for us."

A major aspect of that importance is due to the fact that Johnson continues to work to improve.

"He's developed," Miller said. "He has worked hard on his floater. I personally watched him shoot thousands of floaters in the spring and summer.

"It is what we worked with him on and what he worked on and Nick is a smart kid. He knew he needed to continue to develop different ways of scoring."

In addition, Johnson continues to make better decisions.

"He's efficient," Miller said. "He takes good shots. He has a variety of ways that he can score. He does it in transition, he does it taking good threes. He's become an 80 percent free-throw shooter, he's developed a left hand, a right hand, kind of a middle range game. He deserves a lot of credit.

"He has put the work in. He's improved from high school to freshman from freshman to sophomore and sophomore to his junior year. He has always been a really gifted athletic type of player, he's also been a smart player and it's like those two things have combined to make him a great basketball player."

Johnson is not the only player that continues to shine, as Miller has two freshmen that seem to come up big when needed the most.

"Aaron Gordon and Rondae Jefferson had 12 offensive rebounds," Miller said after Utah. "Those two guys bring a lot to the table, but their athleticism and physicality and just their big moment plays.

"The bigger the game, the more competitive the game, those guys are first year players, but they are really at home when it is like that. I thought they both made some really, really big plays to help us win, especially on the glass."

Utah did a good job of making Gordon's life difficult, but he kept his composure for the most part.

"I thought he got frustrated at the beginning tonight," Miller said. "I don't see him get frustrated very much. He had a couple things go his way, he missed his first two free-throws. He got right back on track.

"The value of Aaron Gordon you could really see tonight in that he had 12 rebounds, 7 of them offensive rebounds. Even when he misses free-throws, we want him to make them, but he's getting fouled and that wears the other team down."


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