Arizona dominated a poorly constructed Missouri team in a 79-60 victory Saturday morning, but Sean Miller believes the win still benefitted the Wildcats.
“Today was a much-needed game for us because of the way it worked out,” Miller said. “We dealt with a team that made a big run against us in the final eight minutes of the first half. We certainly fouled too much and that was on us.
“As a team we have to be smarter. A lot of those fouls are happening because we have inexperienced players that are taking tough shots and turning it into two free throws.”
Rawle Alkins finished the game with 19 points on 4-7 shooting from three. The freshman was a key contributor down the stretch and Miller could not be more pleased with his work ethic on and off the court.
“He works hard at it every day and his work ethic is just phenomenal,” he said. “His process as a player is one that reminds me of an older player in a program who just knows what he is supposed to do. He doesn’t get too high and he doesn’t get too low.
“Kobi Simmons and him together today combined for 38 points and 11 rebounds and both of them were our leading scorers. You talk about two freshman playing their first true road game of their careers the way that they did, I think it says a lot about who they are.”
Despite outscoring the Tigers 38-24 in the second half, Arizona allowed Missouri to get to the free throw line 30 times. With such a limited number of players available, Miller wants his players to further familiarize themselves with different defensive sets and playing smarter moving forward.
“Missouri really did play three or four different defenses,” Miller said. “Coming into this game they had mostly played man mixed in with a little 2-3 zone and they did show a 1-3-1 three or four possessions of the game and along with that a 3-2.
“When you play that many defenses eventually you’re going to break the opponent. They gave us a different look and I think when you play against so many different types of defenses you aren’t going to get to the foul line a lot.
“They’re a driving and very fast pushed team. We knew that coming in and I would say out of our 22 personal fouls, six to eight of them could have been avoided. It’s just lack of discipline and experience. The biggest thing that we take away from this game is the importance of not fouling. It’s going to make us a much better defensive team.”