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Late Run Propels Arizona to 71-54 Win Over UCI

November 19th, 2014 News 7 Comments

NCAA BASKETBALL: NOV 19 UC Irvine at Arizona

UC Irvine proved to be a true challenge for Arizona, as the Anteaters pushed the #2 ranked Wildcats throughout the 71-54 win. Despite looking listless for much of the game, a 15-0 run late in the second half regained the lead for Arizona and they never looked back.

The Wildcats were generally sloppy with the ball for the first 30 minutes of play, displaying an inconsistent effort level on both sides of the game. There were moments when Arizona ratcheted up the defensive ball pressure and denial, and looked like an entirely different team.

But the Wildcats couldn’t sustain that intensity and they allowed UC Irvine to lead 29-26 at half. Irvine would eventually extend the lead to 6 with just over 17 minutes left in the game, at which point the Anteaters looked composed while Arizona was searching for answers.

If it weren’t for the energy of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and the awareness of TJ McConnell, Arizona could have easily suffered a loss.

But Hollis-Jefferson had his typical highlight reel dunk that takes the roof off the building, on 7-6 Mamdou Ndiaye no less, as well as a career high 19 points.

Hollis-Jefferson once again came off the bench, a role in which he has thrived so far this season. His aggressiveness and play-making ability off the dribble was a key factor in waking up the sluggish Arizona team. He attacked the basket and converted 11-13 free throws, while collecting 6 rebounds in 29 minutes.

And senior point guard McConnell showed poise as he kept Arizona in the game with a whopping 6 steals. McConnell also stepped up his offensive game, scoring 12 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 4 assists.

Brandon Ashley was the only other Wildcat to score in double figures, with 11 points. Ashley played 33 minutes, second only to McConnell’s 36.

Despite shooting under 40% from the field and committing more turnovers than assists, Arizona was able to kick into gear late in the game when UC Irvine’s perimeter shots ran cold and their star big man was sent to the bench with foul trouble.

Next up the Wildcats head to Lahaina, Hawaii for the Maui Invitational opening round against the Missouri Tigers.

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7 Responses to “Late Run Propels Arizona to 71-54 Win Over UCI”

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  1. Mike Goldthwaite

    November 19, 2014

    GO CATS! Great win! All the little positives from each of our first three games are coming together beautifully even though there’s still much work to do. RHJ has become the great player I knew he’d become….

  2. Jeff

    November 20, 2014

    Great way to close out the game. Still a lot of work to be done offensively for Arizona to realize its clearly untapped potential.

  3. jmoon

    November 20, 2014

    SJ had 10 and 10

  4. Papadeuce

    November 20, 2014

    Well that will certainly get filed under ugly win but we’ll take it. I’m glad we’re playing teams right now that are testing different areas of our game, and boy do we have a lot to work on. If we want to play with the top teams in the nation we need to come with the defensive effort displayed during the second half, all game long. I’m sure Miller will have a heyday in film today with a few of the guys.

  5. Jake

    November 20, 2014

    12 points, 9 boards, 6 steals, 4 assists… great game on TJ. This team needs him to step up and be that vocal leader this year.

  6. uofrage

    November 20, 2014

    Tj is the hardest working player on the team, Zeus needs to stay aggressive, get mad, and beast in the post when there isn’t a 7’6″ defender…Stan needs to play smarter and Dae is doing his thing!

  7. Tucson Tom

    November 20, 2014

    Sorry Mike, but I think this teams has a ways to go yet. I attended the game, and frankly, they did not look anything like a #2 Team. If they did, Kentucky has a very great.

    UCI’s offensive flow was way more fluid throughout the first 32 minutes. Stanley had his rebounds, but he is looking for the shot first almost every time he gets a pass on the perimeter. 5 turnovers, including double dribbles, carries, and travels.

    Perhaps Miller knows more than I do, but the frequency of the substitutions were so abrupt that the players seemed to struggle getting into game flow. They can’t play this way in Maui!

    Positives, Stanley’ boards and free throw shooting. If we had shot at our typical 55-60% level, we would have been in deep trouble.

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