Observations: Arizona vs. New Mexico State

Arizona defeated New Mexico State on Wednesday. Read on to see what the win continues to teach us about the Wildcats.

With a big win over UNLV in the rear view mirror, a huge road test against Michigan coming up and the No. 1 ranking next to their name, there were plenty of distractions for Arizona to get lost in as New Mexico State came to town.

To the credit of the coaching staff and the team, the Wildcats came out focused and turned out one of their more complete efforts of the season.

Here were the main takeaway points from the 74-48 win, which improved UA to 10-0 for the second year in a row.

  • The defense, as it has been all season long sans the opening 10 minutes against Drexel, was terrific once again. It held NMSU to just 48 points on 32.6 percent shooting, with 16 of those coming at the charity stripe.

    The Aggies are far from an offensive juggernaut, but they still managed to average 74 points against the likes of Gonzaga, New Mexico and Colorado State.

    They simply had no answers with the ball in their hands last night due to Arizona's athleticism, length and ability to lock down the paint.

  • Arizona now ranks fifth in Kenpom's defensive efficiency rankings. Sean Miller's teams in Tucson have continually gotten better in that regard, and this is (by far) his best squad yet.

  • Few players in the country have been better at stuffing the stat sheet than T.J. McConnell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. That continued on Wednesday. McConnell finished with nine points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals, while Hollis-Jefferson had 12 points, eight boards, three assists, two blocks and a steal.

    His dunk over an NMSU player sent Twitter and the nightly highlight shows into a frenzy.

    Neither T.J. nor Rondae will get much love from the national media on a regular basis, but their contributions on the floor simply cannot be overlooked.

  • Aaron Gordon just hasn't looked right since the trip to New York City. He finished the night with a respectable 11 points and four rebounds, but it's pretty apparent the mental side of the game is affecting him quite a bit.

    If missing the rim completely on back-to-back free throws wasn't telling enough, Gordon went 5-for-12 from the field and missed all three of his three-point attempts. He was frustrated on the floor, and it led to a couple of forced shots. That's not his game.

    Fortunately for UA, the young freshman is one of the hardest workers on the team. It would seem he has completely bought into the system, and it should only be a matter of time before he's back to putting up double-doubles as he did in the opening weeks of the season.

  • Brandon Ashley continued to get himself into trouble with fouls and a couple of silly turnovers, but he had as impressive a night as anyone. He scored 15 points on just seven shots, including three 3's from behind the arc.

    Ashley has improved by leaps and bounds as a sophomore. Now it's just a matter of him stopping himself from being one of the top forwards in the country.


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