Arizona Player of the Game:
T.J. McConnell – The junior point guard had a breakout game on a national stage. Not to say that he played poorly in the previous ones, but his performance on Friday overshadowed all six of the other games he has played as a Wildcat.
McConnell finished the night with ten points and eight assists, which are marvelous numbers for a point guard. To top that off, he had just two turnovers in the game and one of them was on a lob that he threw just a little too hard. His performance against the Blue Devils proved that he will be a valuable asset to the team when March rolls around.
Stats of the Night:
18: The Wildcats finished the night with 18 assists in the championship game. What makes this an incredible stat is that Arizona only had 23 made field goals on the night. McConnell had eight assists in the game, leading the team. Aaron Gordon added four of his own assists and Nick Johnson dished out three more. The Wildcats did have sixteen turnovers, but only seven came from the guard position.
Arizona played well for the first half of the game, but couldn't stop Jabari Parker. He put up a ton of shots, but still seemed like one of the most active players on the floor. Arizona slowed him down the best it could, but Parker is just one of those players who is going to get his points.
Kaleb Tarczewski played the second best game of his career, following his best game of his career. The sophomore was aggressive on offense and on the glass. He still made plenty of mistakes, but they were mistakes that you can take. Given, Tarczewski made a few too many, but it was good for the Wildcats to get some positive emotion from him.
For as bad as he played in the first half and part of the second half, Nick Johnson really stepped up his game down the stretch to help his team pull it out. It showed great leadership from him and was a sign of a veteran player.
The final note of the night is that Arizona's runs are in full effect this season, as they were last year. Once the Wildcats get in a groove, it is hard to knock them off. It is how they opened up comfortable leads all season so far.
This year's team is special though. Arizona used an 18-5 run to jump ahead by 9, but did it almost entirely with Brandon Ashley on the bench with four fouls. This Arizona team is deep and has multiple weapons that can hurt teams on any given night.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"He stayed patient, which is one of the qualities that he has as a player," Miller said of Gordon. "I chose not to play him a lot in the first half, because he was in foul trouble. He played 20 minutes in the second half, so he was out there more. But we as a group have to find ways to use his offensive talent even more, and he's such a unique player."
"We're an all-around team," Johnson said. "Really you could see it in the box score. It was pretty even all the way around. We're a good team and we can play with anybody."