Upperclassmen paving the way

Upperclassmen paving the way

Arizona had to rely on the upperclassmen against Southern Miss. Read on to see why, what Johnson says helped them, and more.

For most of the early season, the focus has been on the younger players. In the win over Southern Miss on Tuesday, the ability of the upperclassmen led to the Wildcats coming out with the victory.

With Arizona struggling at the half of Tuesday's game, Kevin Parrom says that Sean Miller's message was simple.

"He basically looked at the seniors and asked if we wanted to play hard or lose to Southern Mississippi," Parrom said. "He wasn't yelling at us because we all knew what we had to do. I've been in McKale for four years, so I've been in those situations before and I know what we had to do."

Parrom started the second half and was one of the best options that the Wildcats had throughout the night. However, the best option was Nick Johnson, who has already come a long way since last season.

"Nick Johnson a year ago would never have been able to fight through because he was a freshman, but he is so much more mature and although he had six turnovers, I don't think it was close who the best player on the court was," Miller said.

"He has incredible ability, he has grown and matured. You want players to leave their freshmen year and when they enter their sophomore year to be more responsible, more of almost like I know what this takes, and Nick is a great example of that."

Johnson believes that the fact Arizona played in a close game is something that will prepare it for the future.

"I know we have veteran leadership, but our freshmen haven't been in a close game," Johnson said. We pulled this one out, but we got the experience factor of this game. We're using this to go into our next games and learning from our experiences."

For Miller, Arizona's success has to do with how hard the Wildcats work. That effort is something that has been started with the upperclassmen and pushed onto the freshmen as well.

"I know I keep saying hard work, I have used that with Solomon Hill, I have used that with Kevin Parrom and I have used that now with Nick Johnson, but I have been here every day," Miller said. "Our guys have worked collectively extremely hard. One of the great things we have going for us is that we are very consistent with our approach every day in practice."

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