Plenty of credit to go around after win

Sean Miller had plenty of credit to give out on Saturday. Read on for his thoughts on Ohio State, McConnell, and more.

After Arizona’s win over Ohio State, Sean Miller had plenty of credit to go around.

“Well, anytime that you beat Ohio State, it's a great, great moment,” Miller said. “I say that because of the terrific coach they have, the program, the history in this NCAA tournament.

“You look at their senior class, I believe they're a part of a Final Four team, an Elite 8 team, several Big Ten championships. So you're playing a team that knows how to win and has been in this type of setting. So going into a game against them, you know you're going to be tested, and we were.

“Their zone defense had us playing very tentative for a duration of the game. I really felt like we started to get control towards the latter half of the first half, but in the second half we clearly got the basketball around the rim. Even some of the shots we missed were better shots, whereas in the first 10 minutes we looked very, very tentative. That's to Ohio State's credit.

“Our guys did an excellent job on D'Angelo Russell. I thought we defended with a lot of purpose. We won our way. You look at the rebounding, 43 to 26. To me that was the difference in the game. We're obviously excited to be moving to the Sweet 16.”

T.J. McConnell played arguably the best game of his career and much of that had to do with his defensive effort on Russell.

“I've said it all along, he's our most valuable player because of what he's done consistently over time,” Miller said. “But also what a talented defensive player that he is. It's never a one-on-one game, T.J. versus D'Angelo Russell, but T.J. guarded him throughout the course of the game and I thought did an outstanding job.

“You watch D'Angelo Russell play in the Big Ten season, he's an amazingly talented offensive player. For T.J. to impose his will, work as hard as he did on that side of the ball, a lot of times that player doesn't have enough on offense to help you.

“When you look at what he does for us on both ends, he's like an All-American player. He reminds me a lot of what Aaron Craft gave Ohio State for so many years. T.J. has meant that to our program, not just the last two years, but he practiced with us three years ago, I'm telling you, he made our team better even in that year. I think he's one of the best players that's playing in college basketball right now.”

McConnell’s night was also helped by the career effort that Gabe York put forth.

“Well, he got a couple good looks, especially in the second half,” Miller said. “In the first half, we were very tentative, and we weren't able to break him free because the ball didn't get into the middle and we didn't move it well enough.

“Even a couple of the shots that he took in the first half were almost desperation. Second half he got some great looks. Gabe's a very good shooter. You know, if you followed us I would say over the last six weeks, you look at his points per game, his minutes per game, he's really emerged.

“Tonight was another great example. We needed him and he delivered. He's really a big, big part of what we've done all year long.”

Even though Arizona did not get great performances from everybody, Miller took that as more of a positive.

“This type of atmosphere, you know, playing for a Sweet 16, you don't have to remind someone like Stanley that this is a big game, a game that in many regards we're all judged by,” he said.

“His intent was very good. It's just the ball didn't go in a couple times for him early. He started to press a couple times late. It wasn't his night.

“I will tell you that that's a great sign for our team because we won tonight's game in a convincing fashion. Really, if you look at Stanley, this would probably be one of his subpar games that he's played, considering he's 1-12 from the floor.

“We look at it as a positive. A lot like Gabe not scoring a lot in the last game against Texas Southern. Stanley will be fine. I think in the next round he'll regain his form.”

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