Solomon Hill already has been chosen Pac-12 player of the week twice this season, so he's not exactly coasting along. But the junior forward says Arizona's more experienced frontcourt players must play better -- and bigger -- if the team hopes to fulfill its potential.
Hill used the Wildcats' 65-58 loss at UCLA as a case in point. Arizona's guards hit just a combined 27 percent from the field, but Hill says it's up to him and his fellow big guys to make life easier for the club's youthful perimeter players.
"I feel like we put pressure on those guys every game," Hill told the Arizona Daily Star. "We expect the wings to play good every game, but we have to get an inside game, too. Once we get an inside game going, they can be more relaxed.
"If me and Jesse (Perry) would have initiated some low-post scoring, I think it would have been easier for the wings to play."
Hill and Perry combined for 29 points and 17 rebounds against UCLA, but they also had nine turnovers.
The Wildcats (11-5, 2-1 Pac-12) salvaged a weekend road split in Los Angeles by beating USC 57-46. But the fact is, Arizona is not a potent inside team, and opposing teams will adjust their approach to exploit that.
The Bruins ganged up defensively on the Wildcats' young guards.
"UCLA did a really good job defending us, and they deserve a lot of credit," coach Sean Miller said. "We shot ourselves in the foot a few times by taking ill-advised or quick, bad shots, and when you do that on the road, you put a lot of pressure on your ability to win.
"Like always, the story is you had a couple of good ones, and we missed them. But in order to be a good team, you still have to find a way to win, and we weren't able to do that."
-- The Wildcats' 36.2 percent effort at UCLA was their second-worst shooting game of the season, behind only a 33.3 percent output during a 61-57 home loss to San Diego State on Nov. 23.
-- Arizona shot just 3-for-17 from the 3-point arc at UCLA, then 2-for-15 in the win over USC.
-- The Wildcats held USC to 16 first-half points and limited the Trojans to 29.2 percent shooting for the game.
BY THE NUMBERS: 27.1 percent -- Arizona's 3-point shooting percentage (29-for-107) in its five defeats through Jan. 8.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If I made those free throws, it's a different game." -- F Solomon Hill, who shot just 2-for-6 from the foul line in Arizona's loss to UCLA.
-- Freshman PG Josiah Turner wasn't an immediate solution for the Wildcats, but he is making progress a day at a time. Turner got his first start since the season opener in the Wildcats' game at UCLA and had nine points and six rebounds, although he shot just 2 for 6 from the field. Still, he said, "I felt better coming out starting, getting into the flow of the game faster."
Coach Sean Miller said Turner earned the job back by having a strong week of practice following the Wildcats' three-day Christmas break. He also said he still was counting on sophomore Jordin Mayes, who had started 12 games this season through Jan. 8.
-- Junior F Solomon Hill had 16 points and 11 rebounds against UCLA, then 11 points and 10 rebounds against USC, giving him five double-doubles on the season. Against the Bruins, he shot 7-for-15 and had five turnovers and four fouls.
-- Freshman SG Nick Johnson scored just two points at UCLA, hitting only one of six shots, and he was 0 for 4 from behind the arc. He struggled again vs. USC, shooting 2-for-9 and scoring just four points. Through Jan. 8, Johnson was 5 for 26 from 3-point range in his past eight games.
-- F Jesse Perry was 5 for 13 and scored 13 points to go with six rebounds in the loss at UCLA. He found his shooting eye against USC, though, going 9 for 13 to score 20 points.