Arizona was dominant over the weekend, sweeping the Washington schools by a combined 51 points. Here’s a look at the statistical storylines behind the Wildcats’ most recent victories.
67 – Arizona’s made field goals over two games. The talking heads have gone on and on about how the Wildcats can struggle to score the ball at times. Despite their stifling defense, Arizona’s inability to light up the scoreboard has been a recurring theme.
That wasn’t the case in the state of Washington, where Arizona’s offense came alive. More impressive than the number of field goals made is the efficiency that the Wildcats were able to keep up. They shot 52.5% against Washington before dropping 57% shooting on Washington State, two extremely impressive figures.
It appears as though Arizona may have turned over a new leaf on offense. TJ McConnell is being more aggressive, while Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are both making better decisions with the ball.
25 – TJ McConnell’s assists and steals over two games. McConnell has been Arizona’s MVP all year long, and his stellar play continued against the Washington schools. He carved up defenders for 18 assists over the two games, going for 10 against Washington.
But McConnell also gets the job done on defense, especially as a disruptor who can cause turnovers. The senior had 7 steals in two games, including 4 thefts against Wazzu. McConnell’s ability to harass opposing point guards is one reason why Arizona’s defense has been as effective as it has.
21 – Arizona’s rebounding margin versus Washington State. Despite being shorthanded without Dusan Ristic and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, the Wildcats were able to maintain their physical advantage despite losing key depth.
With just 7 rotation players leading the way, it could have been easy for Arizona to play more conservatively. But the Wildcats were relentless in attacking the glass, punishing the Cougars behind aggressive, physical play.
If Arizona can recreate that intensity on the boards, there are very few teams in the country that will keep the Wildcats from creating a rebounding advantage.
20 – Arizona’s made free throws versus Washington. Another sign of increased aggressiveness is more trips to the free throw line. Of course, Arizona has been great at racking up free throw attempts all year. But the story here is that they converted 20 of 26 attempts. For a team that has struggled to cash in on free points at the line, that was a major step in the right direction.
That said, Arizona is still overcoming issues from the line, as they went just 10 of 20 from free throws against Washington State. If the Cats finds themselves in close games this postseason, free throw shooting might be the big storyline in whether they win or go home.
4 – Double digit scoring opponents over two games. It seems like every game the Wildcats find a way to neutralize the opposing team’s best player. Arizona’s ability to take scorers out of the game has been nothing short of remarkable.
That continued against the Washington schools and then some, as only four players cracked double digit scoring in two victories. Against Washington State Davonte Lacey and Dexter Kernich-Drew got hot in the second half to finish with 18 and 20 points, but both were stifled in the first half and none of their teammates were able to get any kind of offensive rhythm.
And against Washington only Andrew Andrews and Shawn Kemp Jr were able to get to double figures, while the rest of the team shot just 9 of 31 on field goals.
If Arizona continues their trend of shutting down opponents’ top players, they will put themselves in good position for a deep tournament run.