Game Notes: Arizona vs. Cal Poly

Arizona won the season opener over Cal Poly 73-62 on Friday night. Read on for a look at how they did it, including which player was the best on the court.

The Arizona Wildcats' season opened with a 73-62 win on Friday night over Cal Poly. Here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Player of the Game:

Aaron Gordon – It wasn't a surprise that Gordon was the best player on the court, but he showed an incredible amount of poise in his first college game. The freshman had a double-double and made it look easy. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds and added four blocks.

Key Moments:

  • Arizona had a slow first half and started the second half the same way, but got it turned around quickly. Leading by just one, T.J. McConnell found Gabe York for an open three-pointer. After a missed shot on the other end of the court, McConnell dribbled around the arc and found himself with a wide-open layup that gave the Wildcats a six-point lead.

  • Just as things looked like they were going to get close, the Wildcats started to pull away. Arizona was leading just 51-45, but Nick Johnson hit a floater and the Wildcats forced back-to-back traveling turnovers before Aaron Gordon gave Arizona an eleven point lead with an and-one layup.

  • With just under three minutes remaining in the game, two Cal Poly free throws cut the Arizona lead to nine and the Mustangs put on the press. After breaking through the pressure, McConnell found York once again for a wide-open three ball to push the lead back to twelve.

    Stat of the Night:

    36 - Arizona scored 36 points in the paint in the season opener. The Wildcats have been talked about having a weak outside shooting game, but Arizona made up for it by playing well in the paint. With ten offensive rebounds, it allowed Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon to get easy put backs, which led to eleven second chance points for Arizona. If the Wildcats can continue to dominate in the post, it will open up better shots outside the arc.

    Thoughts:

    Although it was a win, it was obvious there is plenty of room for improvement. Nick Johnson, one of the most experienced players on the team, had a quiet first half and put together a decent second half to finish with eleven points.

    Gordon was the best player on the court, but the sore groin limited him to a four-point, two-rebound second half. Once he is 100-percent, the freshman will be a force to be reckoned with on the court.

    Just behind Gordon were two other players that played phenomenally on Friday: Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Both had goods and bads, but overall played well. Ashley finished with eleven points and nine rebounds, but it seemed to be happening behind the scenes. Ashley's motor seems to have improved, but if he could push himself a little harder, he can really breakout.

    Hollis-Jefferson is another face that showed up ready to play in his first collegiate game. Although he was a little over aggressive at times, his energy on the court was something that can not easily be replaced or replicated, especially on defense.

    Who can forget T.J. McConnell and Gabe York? Both guards came up big when Arizona needed them most throughout the game. Twice in the game, York was on the receiving end of a pass from McConnell that set up an open three-pointer and started a run for the Wildcats. With York shooting the way he has in the exhibition game and Friday, it would not be a surprise to see him start stealing more and more minutes.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "In a season opener, a lot of unexpected things can happen," Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller said of his team shooting.20-36 from the free throw line. "The exciting thing about our team is that we will only get better as we keep moving on. We're not as bad of a free throw shooting team as we showed tonight. Being up three points at the half and 8-for-18 at the line, it's difficult to be up three against a team like Cal Poly.

    "If we would have been able to make some of those points, we could have been a team that scored 80 points."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "I had some nerves before the game, but I know that basketball is the same game at every level," Gordon said. "I just told myself, ‘Basketball is basketball is basketball is basketball.' Just knowing that helped me calm my nerves a little before the game."


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