Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs. NMSU

Arizona used a second half surge to pull away from NMSU. The Wildcats came away with a 74-48 win on Wednesday night. Read on to find out who the player of the game was, the key moments, and more.

Arizona started slow, but finished strong once it got into a groove. The Wildcats surged in the second half, pulling away for a 74-48 victory. Here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Player of the Game:

Brandon Ashley – The sophomore continues to play well this season, as he came out on fire from the field and kept it up all night long. Ashley finished with 15 points and six rebounds in the game, hitting all three of his three-point attempts in the process. His energy on the floor was enough to push Arizona ahead and stay there.

Key Moments:

  • After falling behind early, the Wildcats nearly made things difficult for themselves. Between an Aaron Gordon dunk at the sixteen-minute mark, Arizona hit just a single free throw in the next three minutes. However, New Mexico State could not score very much either, as it held just a three-point lead.

    That changed with a Brandon Ashley tip in to cut the lead to one. After a free throw for the Aggies, two straight dunks from Kaleb Tarczewski gave the Wildcats their first lead of the night.

  • Late in the first half, Arizona led by just three, but it changed in a hurry. T.J. McConnell hit a jumper to extend the lead and great team defense forced a quick shot on the other end. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got the rebound and pushed it up the floor, finding Aaron Gordon for the reverse layup and a seven-point lead. Two Tarczewski free throws made it a nine-point game as the Wildcats started to pull away.

  • To close the first half, Hollis-Jefferson got the crowd excited in a big way. He took a pass on the wing, put a nifty move on his defender and took off for the basket. He threw down a nasty dunk over Renaldo Dixon and got fouled in the process. A free throw put Arizona up 32-24 at halftime.

  • Starting the second half, McConnell got in on the scoring act after having just two points in the first twenty minutes. He hit a three-pointer to push Arizona's lead to seven and then pulled up in transition for two more to give his team a nine-point lead with just over sixteen minutes to go in the game.

    Stats of the Night:

    36: Arizona scored 36 points in the paint against New Mexico State. The Wildcats have done this multiple times during the season, but the reason this is important for this game is that Arizona did this against a team that actively played two centers.

    In addition, the Wildcats held the Aggies to just 18 points in the paint. This can partially be attested to Arizona's lead in the second half, but it is still impressive given New Mexico State's size.

    General Thoughts: Arizona played really well once again. There is not much to say about this team that has not already been said numerous times. Each player has the ability to take over the game and Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley did just that.

    Kaleb Tarczewski was effective for a majority of the night and has shown considerable improvement with his hands. Nick Johnson struggled at times, but turned it up in the second half to finish with decent numbers.

    The small surprises were the play of Aaron Gordon and Gabe York. Gordon was held to just four rebounds on the night, while York was held scoreless. Both are somewhat uncharacteristic, although York's offensive production has been in a lull the last few games.

    One thing that should concern Arizona fans is Ashley's inability to stay out of foul trouble. He did a better job during this game, but was still whistled for some pretty bad fouls. There is not much that he can do to fix this, except try to be in a better position defensively.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "Right now, he's one of our best offensive rebounders," Miller said of Hollis-Jefferson. "He's relentless. i thought he had three or four great passes tonight. Defensively, he's getting better with every day of practice because he is working really hard at it.

    "A lot like Aaron Gordon, they're very versatile in their approach. Tonight, Rondae and Aaron were never guarded. I think it's hard not to guard two players as good as them."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "I thought we struggled as a team, some people played better than others, but we kept moving on offense and kept finding the open man like we have been all year," McConnell said.

    "We're just unselfish. When we do that, we're pretty hard to stop. We're an unselfish basketball team. When we do that and we're hitting shots, it's pretty good."

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