Sean Miller knew exactly what Arizona was stepping into when it went into UTEP for its first true road game of the season.
“This was a hostile arena and crowd and I mean that in a very complimentary way,” Miller said. “Everything we expected. Very well coached team, tough team with a great player in Vince Hunter.
“He’s the best player we’ve played against and if he didn’t foul out, I don’t know if we would have won. He was a one man wrecking crew for a lot of the game and that is to his credit, it’s not like we weren’t trying.”
The Wildcats were able to get off to a blazing start and it appeared Arizona would blow UTEP out, but Vince Hunter had other ideas.
“We got off to a great start, that’s one of the reasons we won the game,” Miller said. “The last ten minutes of the first half we just had a hard time with Hunter. I haven’t seen guys rebound their own miss very often like him. he is really talented.
“If you look at the stat sheet in the first half it was a tough game, but in large part because he took over for about a ten minute stretch where we didn’t have an answer for him.”
As happy as Miller is with the win, he realizes that Arizona has room to improve, especially in one specific area.
“We made the plays when we needed to,” he said. “I thought T.J. McConnell was really poised and stepped up in a big, big way.
“As always, when you don’t make free-throws the game feels funny. Unless that changes for us, every game we play will be like this because we’re one out of two and we have to get better at that.”
Still, Arizona is better for playing against a solid team on the road.
“This was a great test for us,” Miller said. “Whether we won or lost, I believe we will be a better team going forward.”