Hollis-Jefferson steps up

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stepped up when Arizona needed him the most on Thursday. Read on to see what Miller, Hollis-Jefferson, and others have to say about his performance.

Going into Thursday's game, there was a question as to which player would step up in the absence of Brandon Ashley.

It only took one game for that answer, as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson responded with a double-double and was arguably the biggest reason why the Wildcats were able to win.

"He's a warrior," T.J. McConnell said. "I tell him that every day. If you have that warrior mentality, they can't take that from you. He just goes out there and outworks people. We know we're going to get that from Rondae every night."

Hollis-Jefferson feels that he now has to be more aggressive on the glass with Ashley no longer playing and his effort paid off on Thursday.

"Coach just said to play hard," Hollis-Jefferson said. "I just have to go after it and get more rebounds. I talked to Brandon (Ashley) about that, I said, ‘I'll try, I'll try.' I did that tonight and it felt good."

When Arizona needed him most, Hollis-Jefferson rose to the occasion and after the game Miller was quick to point that out.

"In terms of the positives of Rondae, when the chips are down, he rises to the challenge," Miller said. "He didn't just do it tonight. He has been doing it the whole year.

"Tonight was so much about that and so little about execution and all the statistical things that you can fall in love with basketball."

It may not have all been positive with Hollis-Jefferson, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. With Ashley out for the season, the teaching moments will have to come from playing time rather than Miller's ability to pull him and talk with him for a moment.

"Rondae played 34 minutes tonight," Miller said. "I think he will tell you he probably had four or five errors defensively that really hurt us. In the first half, he was guarding Calliste. You can't ever go under a screen and he went under. Oregon ran flex a couple of times. Gabe (York) gave up a couple.

"In both cases, they're not in there to that degree. They're not able to be there in the role that they currently have when we were with Brandon (Ashley). Now part of it is that they have to learn through trial and error, through experience. I think they will. They'll get better with experience."

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