Real or not, Wildcats looking for momentum - Sports - Explorer

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Real or not, Wildcats looking for momentum

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Arizona's seniors are not thinking about the Pac-12 Conference tournament and the move from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

The focus remains on Saturday's regular-season finale against rival Arizona State. The focus remains on avoiding a three-game slide. The focus remains on getting back to playing like the team that knocked off Florida, Miami and San Diego State in December.

Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom are not worried about tiebreaker scenarios or who sits ahead of the 18th-ranked Wildcats in the standings. Hill already knows that UA is a combined 0-4 against Oregon, UCLA and California - the top three teams in the Pac-12.

The goal is simple: Beat the Sun Devils and a first-round bye is secured.

"We can control having a better seed at this moment," said Hill, whose Wildcats sit in fourth and cannot move up any further, but could open the door for fifth-place Colorado with a loss.

The message from head coach Sean Miller has not changed. Hill said Miller showed the team a statistic that showed Final Four-caliber teams typically rank among the 24 best in the country on defense.

Of the 345 Division I teams in the country, the Wildcats rank 105th in points allowed (63.6 ppg), 110th in opposition field goal percentage (41.4 percent) and 292nd in defending the 3-point line (36.4 percent). This is the team that Miller has said is actually better than last season's team, which was among the nation's best defending beyond the arc.

"Defense is the key important part to winning," Hill said. "That's what all practices have been about these past couple days."

Hill added that last week's losses at USC and UCLA may have "hurt" the team's chemistry. But with a week between games, the Wildcats have had a chance to step back.

Earlier in the week, Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle said he does not buy into momentum heading into the postseason. Boyle pointed to the two losses his team endured before the start of last season's Pac-12 tournament, which the Buffs ended up winning to advance to the NCAA tournament.

"After last year I don't believe in it at all," Boyle said.

But Hill disagrees and looks at what Connecticut did in 2011. The Huskies entered the Big East tournament in ninth place after losing four of their last five regular-season games, but won five games in five days to start an improbable run - one that went through the Wildcats - to the NCAA championship.

Hill just wants to win one game, Saturday, and see what can happen from there.

"We really want to get ourselves going - not just for this game, but … it enthuses confidence throughout the team," said Hill, whose Wildcats may see Boyle and the Buffs in a second-round meeting.

"I think momentum really strung us along at first in the beginning of the season. … I think momentum can really hit you just like UConn did."

It also will be Senior Day at McKale Center, one last chance to play in front of the home fans. There will be plenty of emotions, maybe more for Parrom than anyone else.

The 6-6 wing will have his family from New York in attendance. Among those he listed: his mother, Lisa Williams, who died October 2011 - three weeks after her son's trip back to the Bronx that was marred by a shooting. Parrom returned to Tucson with gunshot wounds to his right knee and left hand.

If she were alive today, Parrom said his mother would wonder why the team has lost consecutive games.

"She doesn't like us losing," Parrom said. "When she was alive, she used to be like, 'Kev, what are you guys doing losing all these games? I didn't send you across the country to lose.'

"Whether we win or lose on Saturday, my effort is going to be there."

Parrom then paused, thought for a second and added: "We are going to win. I can't lose on my last game. I can't accept that … especially (against) ASU. I can't consider losing that game."

(Editor's Note: Tracy McDannald is the senior editor for GOAZCATS.com. Get all your Wildcats' news at www.goazcats.com.)

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