As Washington tightened up the game in the second half, Sean Miller did something he doesn’t do often.
He went to a 2-3 zone.
“In my mind it changed the tide of the game and I give our players a lot of credit,” Miller said. “We work on it every day, but it’s not a priority.
“You put a zone up and a lot of times it works the wrong way because you don’t know what you’re doing. When we were in the zone, were we great? No, but for the most part we knew what we were doing and I thought it changed the momentum.”
The zone gave the Wildcats a boost as they struggled without their best defensive player in Kadeem Allen.
“I think it gave our guys confidence because one thing about Markelle Fultz is that it is really hard to deal with him because he draws fouls easily,” Miller said.
“He shot 15 free-throws tonight and he earned 15 free-throws. He puts you in a bind where it feels like a foul almost every time he drives. At least by playing a zone it calmed him down, made them score from the field, and took the ball from his hands to a certain degree.
“If you ever want to know how good of a defensive player Kadeem Allen is, just watch our team without him and then when he is playing. If he’s not the defensive player of the year or one of the top five defensive players in the Pac-12, I would be surprised.”
There was some thought about playing Allen, but his health won out in the end.
“Looking in his eyes, it was coach if you need me I will run through a wall, but if you don’t need me I would feel a lot more comfortable not going out there,” Miller said.
“On Tuesday of this week, his bone popped out of his skin. We thought we might have lost him for the year. He is only four and a half days since that happened.
“To his credit, he tried hard in practice just catching the ball. I think the good news is that since he didn't play, over the next couple of days it is going to heal up and from what I feel like and am being told, I think he is full go going into next week.”