Arizona Co-Players of the Game:
T.J. McConnell – The junior point guard was forced to score and help his team win on Saturday. He did just that, finishing with 13 points. That wasn't all for McConnell as he added six assists, three steals, and an unusual seven rebounds as well. He hit multiple big shots and had clutch steals to get his team back on track.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – The true freshman was an unsung hero of the game. Hollis-Jefferson played one of his most complete games of the season. He finished the night with only nine points, but played tremendous defense throughout the night. Hollis-Jefferson grabbed seven rebounds, four of which came on the offensive glass. In addition, the freshman was the most energetic player on the floor for the entire game.
Johnson buried a contested three from the corner out of the timeout and Brandon Ashley had a hook shot in the lane on the next trip down the court to give Arizona a 29-23 cushion.
UNLV answered with a quick two, but Hollis-Jefferson wasn't done. This time, he found T.J. McConnell cutting the baseline for an easy reverse layup that gave Arizona a 37-31 lead.
Stats of the Night:
6: Coming into the game, UNLV's Roscoe Smith averaged over sixteen rebounds per game and his lowest total of the season was ten. However, Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon combined to hold Smith to just six rebounds on Saturday afternoon. It was a tremendous effort on the glass, which further supports Arizona's claim of being a great rebounding team.
Arizona didn't play well at all during this game. In fact, it may have been the worst game that the Wildcats have played all season.
The defense wasn't awful, but in the first half, it wasn't good either. The Runnin' Rebels shot 64-percent from the field in the first half, though that number dropped dramatically to 28-percent in the second half, for a 46-percent game effort. It also helped the Arizona effort that UNLV was held to just 16 points in the second half.
Even though the Wildcats pulled it out and came away with the victory, there were plenty of things to take away from the game.
T.J. McConnell was forced to look for his own shot and score during the game, which is something that he does not and has not done often. The point guard did it well in his turn to carry the team on his back.
Arizona may not have very many more games like this one, where the entire team seems to miss point blank shots, but nights like this will come and it is important to notice the depth that Arizona showed in terms of playmakers and players who can push the team to victory.
Today, there were small moments for each player, but McConnell and Hollis-Jefferson were the two who had to take over. Other nights, Johnson will be the one to step up and Arizona is coming off a game in which Gordon was the go-to guy.
Even though the Wildcats may only be six or seven players deep, each one of those players has the ability to take over the game and carry the team. This becomes a scary thought for other teams with only one or two elite players when it comes time for the NCAA Tournament.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"We have to enjoy being number one," Miller said. "It's an honor that you earn. It never comes your way. There's not a player, coach, or even out fans that doesn't want to say that they've watched or participated or were a part of the number one team in the nation.
"How long we have that is not up to us, but I feel like we've earned it through our performance. We have something that I think is an honor. I'm happy for our players and great fans."
"Definitely," McConnell said when asked if he thought about the rankings this week. "But, we were thinking thinking about UNLV all week. Now that we've won and we're possibly number one, it is satisfying."