Defense shines in win over Utah

Arizona's defense frustrated Utah from the start. Read on to see the Wildcats' thoughts on their defensive effort and more.

Arizona put together one of its best defensive performances of the season on Thursday.

The Wildcats held Utah to 25 percent shooting, 12 field goals, and 39 points.

"Well, they were really putting on a defensive clinic in the first half," Utah center Dallin Bachynski said. "For us to score only 13 points, you can't really shoot that bad. You've got to play at least some to Arizona's defense. Of course some shots that we know we could hit were not falling, but the majority of it was their defense."

Arizona head coach Sean Miller feels that it was one of the more complete defensive performances of the season.

"Well, I thought today we had obviously an excellent defensive day," he said. "We were locked in, and our effort level, everything that we really wanted to do defensively, we were able to do it.

"That is the one thing about having a high seed in a conference tournament. It's to your advantage because the team you play, and in Utah's case, had to play a 40-minute hard-fought game yesterday against Washington. We didn't. I felt like the longer the game went, you could kind of sense that that was to our advantage."

Miller credited his two star guards with setting the defensive pace.

"T.J. and Nick set the tone for our defense," he said. "Although I thought Utah might have missed some shots they normally make, for the most part we tried to make the game hard-earned on that end of the floor, and it was one of our best defensive efforts of the season.

"To me, that set the tone, and that was the story line of our first game here in this tournament."

One of the keys for Arizona was taking away Utah's pick and roll, which was effective for the Utes in the previous meeting.

"I would say it was pretty much a team effort," McConnell said. "When we've got a guy like Delon Wright coming off a pick-and-roll, you've got to worry about him at first. But as a team I think we did a good job of containing him and containing the big men as well."

"Our defense just collectively was better," Miller added. "It's not one person. It's the group. We were in the right place at the right time and played with a lot of energy and lot of effort. As the game wore on, like I said, I felt like we took advantage of our freshness."

Wildcat Authority Top Stories