Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs. San Diego

Arizona went on the road for the first time this season and came away with a win. Read on for a breakdown of the victory, including who the player of the game was, the key moments, and more.

The Arizona Wildcats improved to 3-0 on the season with a close 69-60 win Thursday night over San Diego State. Here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Player of the Game:

Nick Johnson: The junior stepped up when his team needed him the most. The Wildcats were on the road and had several offensive weapons in foul trouble. Every time that San Diego State made a push to bridge the gap, Johnson was there with a strong offensive play or a defensive stand.

The shooting guard led all scorers with 23 points in the game, making eight of fifteen shots, and six of eight from the line. He also had four rebounds and two blocks on the night.

Key Moments:

  • Leading by just three points at the 12:33 mark of the first half, Arizona used a short burst to get some cushion over the Aztecs. A 9-0 run included four points from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and five from Aaron Gordon including a run capping three-pointer to put the Wildcats up 23-11.

  • With fourteen minutes left in the game, Arizona turned the ball over and started the break for San Diego State. Matt Shrigley missed a layup with Kaleb Tarczewski trailing the play. On the rebound, Brandon Ashley bumped into an Aztec and was whistled for his fourth foul of the game, causing him to leave for quite some time.

  • San Diego State used the foul trouble to cut the lead to just eight, but Nick Johnson stepped up for his team, hitting a jumper that extended the lead to ten and then made a layup in transition to push it to a dozen. It broke a 7-0 San Diego State run.

  • Late in the game, Xavier Thames hit several key long balls, but none was bigger than the one that cut the lead from ten down to seven. A free throw later and the Aztecs were within six with just over three minutes left in the game.

  • With less than two minutes left in a four-point game, McConnell found Gordon on a lob from out of bounds that put away the Aztecs.

    Stats of the Night:

    39-28: Arizona went on the road against a team that had almost an equal amount of height and dominated on the glass. The Wildcats out-rebound the Aztecs 39-28, despite having several big men in foul trouble for a majority of the game.

    Arizona continued to impress with the post scoring as well, as the Wildcats had 34 of their 69 points in the paint.

    General Thoughts:

    Arizona played incredibly well on Thursday. It isn't hard to imagine that the Wildcats were actually in a position to run away with the game at one point. However, foul trouble hampered the offense towards the end of the first half and most of the second half and the Aztecs were allowed to stay in the game.

    One thing I noticed tonight was that T.J. McConnell was silently effective. He finished the game with seven points and six assists. It isn't a stellar stat line, but he is running the offense efficiently and effectively. McConnell does need to work on his offensive side of the ball, as he made just two of his seven shots on the night.

    Aaron Gordon was at it again. He came out fired up and had 12 points before San Diego State did. However, Gordon was slowed by foul trouble and continued to have a slow offensive second half. In 18 second half minutes, most of the freshman's work came on the boards, as he grabbed seven of his eight in the final half of the game.

    With that being said, throughout the entire game, it never felt like Arizona was in trouble. The Wildcats' lead was generally around ten points for most of the game, but even when it dipped down to five or six, Arizona never lost its poise. Someone stepped up and stopped the bleeding and that was the most important factor in the win.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "Playing at home or away is a completely different story and I think to play a true road game is something that we are proud we did," Miller said. "San Diego State has an incredible crowd and a fantastic home arena and a very-well coached team and a team that is used to winning."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "I've never seen anything like that before," McConnell said of Gordon's dunk. "Well, maybe Blake Griffin, but what he did was amazing."

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