It wasn’t pretty at the beginning, but Arizona eventually kicked into gear for a 67-51 exhibition win over Cal Poly Pomona.
A staunch defensive team, Cal Poly Pomona held the Wildcats to 10 of 26 shooting in the first half. Some of it was first game nervousness on the part of Arizona, as they had some sloppy turnovers and missed easy shots for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the game. But Cal Poly Pomona played admirably on defense, frustrating Arizona with fundamental play and a deliberate offensive pace.
Juniors Gabe York and Brandon Ashley carried Arizona in the first half, combining for 7 of 12 shooting and 16 of the Wildcat’s 26 first half points. Senior point guard TJ McConnell was his usual self with 6 first half assists, though it took a late first half surge to finally give Arizona a bit of breathing room.
The Wildcats came alive in the second half, thanks to a much improved 16 of 26 field goal shooting. Arizona was also able to better utilize their strength and speed advantages, not letting the defense get set and exploiting them near the rim.
Ashley played well in his return to live action, chipping in 10 points on an efficient 4 of 6 shooting. He also displayed stellar defense and will be relied upon to defend the opponents best interior player. Ashley also collected 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.
Like last year, the Wildcats’ offensive attack was balanced with five players scoring double digits. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10, while freshman Stanley Johnson shook off some early mistakes to score 12 points.
Though Arizona looked shaky early on, they recollected and showed the potential that has many Wildcat fans eager to get on with the regular season. Part of why the Wildcats came out of their funk was the elevated play of York, who missed some shots but showed an improved floor game and confidence level. York contributed his usual long range shooting, but he also made an impact on with 7 rebounds and some nice passing.
If York continues to play at a high level, Arizona will be much better for it. York shares player of the game honors with McConnell, who contributed 11 assists and 7 rebounds.