Arizona defeated Oregon on Saturday night to win the Pac-12 title and it is an indication that the Wildcats are clicking at the right time.
“Really, really -- not only really, really, very, very, I think those are the words I'll start off with, proud of this group of players and the team that we've become,” Sean Miller said.
“It has never been easy for us. We have dealt with adversity and obstacles as much as almost any group that I've been a part of, and yet we've been able to continue to climb and grow. You always hope that it comes together for you in March. Right now that's really what's happened.”
Arizona went into the matchup as slight underdogs and although it was earlier in the season, nobody forgot what the Ducks did to Arizona in their previous game.
“These guys will tell you, the last time we showed up and played the Ducks, they made more threes than I have ever seen,” Miller said. “They were 16 for 21 at one point in that game.
“I think these guys didn't need a reminder, although we gave it to them, about how talented of a shooting team they are. They might have missed a couple that they normally make, but we did a really good job last night against UCLA.
“If you think about the firepower of both teams from behind the arc, that's one thing for me that I tried to really keep the compass pointed towards, because in the NCAA Tournament and the Pac-12 Tournament, single elimination, the three-point shot is deaf. It kills you.
“A team that's not quite as good as you, if they have that night, you can get bounced. Our three-point defense is one of our strengths. It was a great test in this tournament. I think if you look at our three-point defense, especially against the quality teams we played, that is a good sign for us moving forward, if we can continue.”
Miller made a surprising lineup change when he inserted Keanu Pinder into the starting lineup and he did so to protect Lauri Markkanen.
“We really did it to not allow Lauri to get in foul trouble,” Miller said. “Dillon Brooks is really a difficult match-up. I mean, he had 25 again on us tonight. He can put fouls on our big guys, and they played a mismatch game on offense.
“If anybody who is going to pick up fouls, we were going to let Keanu pick those up. But in the eight minutes that he played there in the beginning of both halves, he did his job. He took some pressure off of our front line, and we did not get in early foul trouble.”
One player that made a major impact was Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who was able to connect with two important threes.
"He's answered that bell," Miller said. "He's really a good player for us. He's playing at the top of his game, and these guys will tell you when he's in the game, he sparks our transition.
"He's one of our team's best defenders. He finished fifth in the Pac-12 in three-point percentage, and he made two threes tonight. So his rise to prominence, he had a rebound tonight. It's one of my favorite plays I think I've ever seen. He jumped like 12 feet. I can't wait to see it.
"Those are the things that he's now doing that maybe early in his career he didn't do as much, but his growth and development has been a real source of pride and I think something that's helped us finish very strong to this point."