Arizona was on the verge of a national ranking, but Saturday's 87-65 setback against BYU in Salt Lake City -- a game the Wildcats were out of from the very beginning -- has left coach Sean Miller frustrated with his team.
Miller expressed those sentiments at a news conference Wednesday, and according to transcript provided by the Arizona Daily Star, the second-year Wildcats clearly finds losses such as the one to the Cougars unacceptable.
"We shot six airballs against BYU. You can go a season and not shoot six airballs. We had a number of guys frightened. The stage was too big, the lights were too bright, things weren't going our way, the crowd was loud. It was just not our night. Our fight, having been in that circle many many times, just wasn't there....
"Our goal and we've talked about it, we want to get away from it, we still have a young bunch. We have don't have a lot of guys who have had great success away from home. We have many guys who have taken some unbelieveable ass-whuppings in big moments and part of the culture, part of us getting our program back is, to not accept that, to get away from that and be a team that everybody's proud of because we fought hard, it was a great basketball game and we lost.
Miller knows that for all his recruiting successes, which have led many to believe Arizona is back, the players on the court ultimately have to perform.
Outside of losses to Kansas and BYU, Arizona has crushed each of its other opponents by double-digits behind the dominating play of leading scorer and rebounder Derrick Williams.
But for the program to take the next step (and Williams could very well depart at season's end for the NBA draft), other options in big games and tough road environments will have to emerge before the highly regarded recruiting class arrives.
The Wildcats can be an NCAA tournament team, but not if some of them play "frightened."