TUCSON, Ariz. It might be a common theme early in the basketball season: Arizona will climb Hill and enjoy the ride.
On Thursday night against I-10 rivals, Texas El Paso, it took awhile for Solomon Hill to get going, but when he did he was pretty good. And so went No. 12 Arizona, now 2-0 in the early season, after its cruise-control 72-51 victory at McKale Center.
But Hill admitted it's not always "going to be about me."
It took an offensive rebound, a running slam that followed, a 3-pointer and a 15-foot jumper for Hill to get going and revitalized in the second half in shaking off the Miners. With UTEP lurking in the middle of the second half, Hill scored seven of Arizona's nine points, giving Arizona a 48-33 lead after holding a 39-31 lead just moments earlier.
"That was just me staying with it and being patient," said Hill, who had 10 points in UA's win. "I took as much as I could and ran with it.
I'm going to pick my spots on the floor when it's open. Not going to force the issue."
It's been said a few times already it could be anybody's day from Arizona's talented roster. But Arizona can all but be assured Hill likely will be one of them.
Hill will be UA's rock among Arizona's youngsters. Fellow senior Mark Lyons will help as he did Thursday, finishing with a game-high 17 points.
"We're a balanced team," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "We'll play 10 players and will count on every 10 to contribute. On one night one might not have as big a night or not play as much or as well but that's the sacrifice all of us have to sacrifice we want to be in March."
And all had their moments. Brandon Ashley played solid defense and added nine points and five rebounds in a better second half than first half. Grant Jerrett had seven points and seven rebounds.
"We still have another level to get to," Hill said. "As long as we're getting better that's all you can ask for."
Eight UA players had at least six points in Arizona's win.
"They are all doing (well) so far," Hill said of his younger teammates. "It's not like an emergency situation. I think they are going to learn. This is game-time experience. As long as we do the little things and get the W.
"I don't expect them to go out there and be like they (will be) in January. They have their timetable when they will mature more in the offense. I can just stick with them."
Much like 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski, who had eight points and six rebounds and looked much better than he did in his debut of four points and four rebounds after a solid exhibition season.
"Last game was tough for me," said Tarczewski, a freshman. "They were small and played zone the whole time. It wasn't my game. I came out today and they got the ball in the post and it was (against) a bigger team. It fits my style more."
Arizona made easy work of the Miners in the first half, eased up and then took off again.
Such will be the case when Miller has a few veterans and a host of youngsters.
Good work if you can get it. Arizona will have just one game vs. Long Beach State on Monday in the next 12 days.
"We feel that if we continue to grow and stick together we can be a good team at some point," Miller said. "We're not now but we're working toward that."
The beauty right now is everyone is buying into the sacrifice of team.
Numbers don't matter.
"You can always tell when a team is disconnected," Miller said. "I would say right now, and it could change, that we have a team that's all about winning. We are 2-0 right now. And they are close together.
And that's refreshing.
Miller announced in his postgame interview, he has signed two student-athletes to letters of intent.
Arizona signed forward Rondae Jefferson and guard Elliott Pitts.
Jefferson is a 6-foot-7, 215-pounder from Chester, Pa. and rated as one of the top 10 players in the country. He helped lead Chester to a 32-0 record last year and hasn't lost a game in 58 straight.
"Randae is a physical player and a winner," Miller said. "He's won 58 games in a row. He's a warrior. He's similar to Solomon in that he can do a lot of things. He can handle the ball and has a chance to be a great defensive player. He's a player who is a great teammate."
Pitts is a 6-5, 180-pounder from Dublin, Calif and ranked in the top 100. He attends De La Salle High. He's an unselfish player with a high basketball IQ.
"I don't believe he is getting enough credit for who he is as a player," Miller said. "Part of it is that physically he's a late developer. I believe he's going to grow and get heavier when he gets here. He's a great passer and very skilled shooter and can play more than one position.
"We're ecstatic to have both of them. They will buy into what we are doing here, which is do something that is bigger than yourself ... be part of a team that believes in itself."