Arizona defeated Arizona State on Saturday. Read on for news and notes on how the Wildcats got it done.
Saturday afternoon marked a successful senior day for the Arizona
Wildcats. Not only did they defeat their rival in the Arizona State
Sun Devils, it turned out to be a successful afternoon for a pair of seniors who were playing their final game at McKale Center.
The Wildcats cruised to a 15-point victory and secured the fourth seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, while picking up their 24th victory of the season.
It was one of the better team performances of the season from Arizona, who was desperate for a performance like the one it put forth Saturday heading into the postseason. Thanks to the play of the veterans -- along with several members of the supporting cast stepping up -- UA was in control for the entire contest.
It may have been senior day, but the real star of the afternoon was sophomore Nick Johnson. Stuck in the middle of a rut, Johnson was looking for a breakout game heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. He produced just that on Saturday, finishing the game with a team-high 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including 2-for-4 from three-point range.
Johnson provided more than just scoring as he impacted the game on both ends of the floor. The sophomore filled out his stat line with four rebounds, four assists, and three steals, putting forth his best effort in several weeks.
The last game at McKale for seniors Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom went very well for the pair. Hill finished with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals, producing in the manner Wildcats' fans have grown accustomed to over the past four years. Hill was strong both offensively and defensively, benefiting his team in numerous ways against the rival Sun Devils.
Parrom had another strong outing, finishing with 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting. The swingman also made an impact on glass, picking up seven rebounds and causing problems for ASU's big men in the paint.
Both Hill and Parrom looked determined to come away with a big victory on Saturday. Each player played effectively and efficiently as they consistently took the smart shot or made the right pass on the offensive end of the floor. Their smart brand of basketball allowed Arizona to hold its composure whenever Arizona State attempted to make a run.
Freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski continues to show improvement and he was a huge factor against ASU on Saturday, especially in the first half. Tarczewski went a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor on his way to a nine-point afternoon and also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
As he continues to gain experience, Tarczewski looks more confident and his game has been progressing consistently in nearly every category.
Arizona simply possessed the urgency that Arizona State lacked throughout the game. On the defensive end of the floor, the Wildcats were smothering at times, which led to 17 turnovers committed by ASU. UA cashed in on their strong defensive effort with 21 points off of turnovers; while Arizona State could only produce 13 points off of 11 Arizona giveaways.
The battle of the boards went to the Wildcats, who fought really hard on the glass on both ends of the floor. They picked up 35 total rebounds -- including 13 on the offensive end of the floor – compared to just 23 total boards from the Sun Devils. The extra effort in the paint led to 12 second chance points, whereas Arizona State only totaled three points off of extra offensive opportunities.
Arizona not only controlled the paint by dominating the boards, it also won the scoring battle around the basket. The Wildcats outscored the Sun Devils 28-20 in the paint and proved to be better at distributing the ball to their big men, an area where they have struggled all season long.