Game Notes: Augustana

Arizona won handily over Augustana in the first and only exhibition game of the season. Read on to find out who the player of the game was, the stat of the night, and more.

The Arizona Wildcats' season opened in a big way on Monday night as it opened with an 84-52 exhibition win over Augustana. Here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Player of the Game:

T.J. McConnell: It was his first game in a Wildcat uniform and the transfer from Duquesne did not disappoint. The junior led the team as a point guard with eight assists, while not turning the ball over once. He also finished with twelve points, tied for third on the team.

He missed just one shot, but his true value came as the conductor of the offense. While McConnell was on the floor, the offense looked as smooth as it has looked under Sean Miller and the Wildcats did not have many empty possessions.

Key Moments:

  • Arizona fell behind early, trailing 12-11 at the first media timeout. T.J. McConnell changed that in a hurry, stealing a pass and taking it himself for a layup. Brandon Ashley followed with a nice back-to-the-basket move and a Gabe York floater forced Augustana into a timeout trailing 17-12.

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon both got in on the action during Arizona's 14-0 run.

  • The 14-0 run was just part of a bigger picture for the Wildcats. Arizona vaulted out front with a big lead at halftime with the help of a larger overall run. The Wildcats built a strong lead with a 38-20 lead to close out the half.

  • Arizona came out slow on offense to start the second half and Augustana used a few long balls to cut the lead to just twelve. That was when Gabe York took over, scoring seven straight points for the Wildcats, including a a long three ball and a dunk.

    It gave Arizona a nineteen-point lead at 58-39. The Wildcats never looked back as they pushed it to a 16-3 run to pull away for good.

    Stat of the Night:

    Arizona's players combined for 20 assists on the night and had just four turnovers. The 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio was much better than the 1.04:1 number from a year ago.

    McConnell had eight assists himself and didn't have any turnovers in the game. Nick Johnson finished with three assists and Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Jordin Mayes, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson each finished with two assists each.

    Overall Thoughts:

    Arizona played well and I was actually looking for the Wildcats to have a big dominating win that they had been missing the last few years. Even though it was just an exhibition game, there were still a few things that stood out as positives and negatives.

    After a rough Red-Blue performance, McConnell showed everyone why he was highly touted a year ago. He did just about anything he wanted with the ball and made running the offense easy. The Wildcats looked much more comfortable with McConnell at the point.

    Even though the freshmen played well and Arizona looked much smoother on offense and defense, there was one area in which the Wildcats seemed to struggle: rebounding.

    Arizona was out-rebounded for most of the game, though a late push evened the numbers. Last season, rebounding was a strength and although it is early and this was just an exhibition game, Arizona needs to do better on the glass if it hopes to be in Arlington in April.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "(McConnell) knows how to play the game," Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller said. "He takes what the defense is giving him. He always has a pass-first mentality. He wants to get his teammates involved and he's clever.

    "T.J. can make the simple play in transition and he can recognize defenses. He can understand the time and score. He makes everything easier for our team and is certainly a valuable player for us this season.

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "It doesn't really matter to me," Gabe York said when asked about the type of shot he looks for. "If I have an open shot, I'll take it. I don't see myself just as a shooter, but more of a scoring guard. I was able to hit some easy shots tonight."


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