No. 14 Arizona worried about D vs. Wake Forest

The Associated Press

No. 14 Arizona is in Sunday's championship game of the Wooden Legacy tournament against Wake Forest, but defensive-minded coach Sean Miller is concerned after allowing 91 points to Pepperdine and 82 against Penn in the Wildcats' two victories at Anaheim, Calif.

Pepperdine shot 50.8 percent from the field and made 13 3-pointers in Arizona's 93-91 win Thursday. Penn also made 13 shots from beyond the arc and kept the game close in a 92-82 loss by shooting 55.2 percent from the field in the second half against the Wildcats (8-0) in a semifinal game Friday.

Wake Forest (5-2) reached the title game by beating Charleston 65-56 and Long Beach State 88-75.

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"I do think we were better through stretches of this game on defense, but we have to continue to improve. We really do," Miller said after the win over Penn. "Some of it is a lot of young guys and having teams like Pepperdine and Penn, they drive young guys crazy. They have never seen the movement in the shooting in these spots like they're dealing with right now.

"That's the good part about being here at this tournament."

Arizona's freshman-led team -- with point guard Nico Mannion, wing Josh Green and post player Zeke Nnaji -- has helped provide enough offense to make up for any defensive lapses.

Mannion made the game-winning shot with 2.1 seconds left against Pepperdine and scored a career-high 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting against Penn. Green had 24 points and eight rebounds against Pepperdine. Nnaji has averaged 16 points and nine rebounds in the two games in Anaheim.

Mannion went coast to coast to beat Pepperdine, making a swooping hook shot that banked off the glass. Miller compared it to Magic Johnson's winning hook shot against Boston in the 1987 NBA Finals.

"He's made a lot of game-winners in his day," Miller said of Mannion. "That's what great guards do. For him to take the ball full-court like that and make that shot, it was a big moment for us."

Wake Forest senior guard Brandon Childress scored 17 to lead the Demon Deacons past Long Beach State in the semifinals. He was one of six Wake Forest players in double figures, joining Andrien White, Chaundee Brown, Torry Johnson, Isaiah Mucius and Olivier Sarr.

"We're doing a good job of feeding one another," Childress said. "Early in the (semifinal) is was Andrien and I who had it going, but we didn't want to settle for jump shots and had to get the big fellas involved. So we got Ody (Oguama), Olivier involved in the paint. We just fed off each other's energy."

It's the second meeting between Arizona and Wake Forest. The first was in November 2004 at Madison Square Garden when Chris Paul led Wake Forest to a 63-60 victory in the championship game of the Preseason NIT.

The Demon Deacons traveled West in 2008 to win the Wooden Legacy.

"We came out with the goal to win this thing and we're in a situation to have that opportunity," said Wake Forest coach Danny Manning.

--Field Level Media

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