Arizona knew that defeating Saint Mary's would be difficult and it turned out to be just that as the Wildcats overcame a ten-point deficit to advance to the Sweet 16.
“It never goes as expected,” Sean Miller said. “Teams make runs. We have a very good record. Saint Mary's is 29-4, so they're a great team. They know how to win, as well.
“The ups and downs of the 40 minutes, there's times when a team is going to go on a run. There are times when we're not going to play well and it's so much about the next play, and being able to just continue to stay focused on what makes us a good team.
“Tonight was a real test of that, that we could kind of get back to doing things better, that maybe we weren't doing well. Getting the ball inside, drives. Really quietly we've done a great job of taking care of the ball. We played with single-digit turnovers in both of these games and that's big, as well.”
Arizona also saw numerous individuals struggle, but seemingly found a way to put them behind it.
“In terms of us tonight, we hung in there,” Miller said. “It was a really -- like a microcosm of our entire season. Rawle Alkins dislocated his finger on the shooting hand. Kadeem dislocated his finger and it popped out a couple of weeks back.
“When you do that as a freshman and you're in the NCAA tournament, and you leave the game, No. 1, it's not easy to come back into the game, but to come back in the game and play well says a lot about Rawle.
“Lauri's post defense was terrific down the home stretch. And the identity and the characteristics of our team, of this guy right here, to my right (Kadeem Allen).
“He's as hard a playing guy as I've seen and he won't let his team lose to some degree. I thought his mentality defensively finally caught on and he got some stops.”
Looking back at the time when Arizona fell behind, much of it has to do with a loss of confidence.
“I think midway through the first half, especially when Rawle got injured, we lost our confidence for a little bit, we really did,” Miller said. “You had Allonzo who wasn't himself, Rawle out of the game.
“Landale, he's one heck of a post player. He got off to a great start. If I'm not mistaken, he had eight field goals. I'm going to say he had maybe five of his eight field goals in the first eight minutes of the game. If you look at the rest of the game we did a much better job against him.
“Lauri tried not to let him get the ball. Lauri's quickness in addition to his size forced him away from the basket more and at least gave us a better opportunity to defend him, because he's a terrific low post player.”
But on offense, we really tried to run our drive plays, our post-up plays and our players did a really good job. Whether it be Rawle, Kadeem, Allonzo, and then inside Dusan, LaChance, Lauri, I think those guys really got fouled and delivered on those drives and post-ups.
Arizona struggled to get into its game plan, but it was apparent that the Wildcats wanted to get the ball to the rim.
“Our advantage was driving,” Miller said. “Our advantage, I think, eventually was to be able to get the ball inside. I think getting the ball to the basket, whether it be on drive or post catch, we delivered.
“We scored. We got fouled and I think that was the big difference. In the first half we weren't nearly as good in getting the ball on drives and into the post. In the second half we were.”