Notebook: Arizona vs. Valparaiso

Arizona was able to win its season opener against Valparaiso. Read on for a complete breakdown of why Arizona was able to grab the win.

Arizona opened the 2011-12 season with a 73-64 victory over a Valparaiso squad that played the Wildcats very well in the first half. UA looked sluggish at points during the first 20 minutes of play but turned it on in the second half to pull away from the Crusaders.

It was a collective effort from Arizona who received valuable contributions from several key players. It took a while for the team to get comfortable, but once it did, it started to look like the squad everyone expected to see prior to the start of exhibition play.

  • Senior forward Jesse Perry had a big game in the paint for UA. Perry scored 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. With the Wildcats looking for players to fill the shoes left by Derrick Williams, Perry stepped up in a big way. His double-double was key in the Wildcats' victory and he proved to be too much for Valpo to handle in the paint.

  • Senior Kyle Fogg paced UA with 16 points and made an impact on the glass with four rebounds. Fogg went 5-for-7 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free throw line on his way to a big opening night. He did not attempt a shot from three-point range, instead doing his damage from inside 19 feet.

  • Freshman shooting guard Nick Johnson had an impressive all-around debut, scoring 14 points, dishing out a team-high six assists and grabbing three rebounds. Johnson looked very comfortable on the floor and showed a plethora of skills throughout the evening. Whether it was with his scoring (2-for-2 from beyond the arc; 8-for-9 from the foul line) or his passing, Johnson was very assertive with the ball in his hands and showed his ability to be a big time playmaker.

  • Sophomore guard Jordin Mayes played a key role off the bench with eight points. Mayes did his damage over a quick stretch in the second half where he hit a pair of three-point field goals that helped the Wildcats extend their second half lead to double digits. The guard also made a significant impact on the defensive end of the floor with three steals.

  • Forward Solomon Hill had an up-and-down performance on Monday. The junior finished with eight points, four rebounds, and three assists; but also committed four turnovers and four fouls. Hill shot only 2-for-6 from the floor and scored just two points in the first half, but played a much better second half during UA's big run. When Hill wasn't playing as well, UA had trouble pulling away, but when he was on his game, the Wildcats were able to play a much more fluid brand of basketball.

  • Freshman big man Angelo Chol put his stamp on the game. In his college debut, Chol fouled out, but shot 3-for-5 from the floor, grabbed six rebounds and collected four steals. Chol still showed he has a lot of room for improvement, but his ability to contribute in several different ways is going to help his development as an overall player over the long haul.

  • Freshman Josiah Turner struggled in his first collegiate contest. The Wildcats' starting point guard struggled from the field, going 1-for-6 on his way to a seven point evening. Turner also found it difficult to create for others as he finished the night with just one assist in 21 minutes of playing time.

  • Arizona really clamped down on the Crusaders on the defensive end of the floor. Valparaiso was held to just 40.4 percent shooting from the floor and 25 percent from long range. UA also forced Valpo into 18 turnovers while holding the Crusaders to 15 assists.

  • The Wildcats also held a slight edge on the boards, out-rebounding Valparaiso 34-32.

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