Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs. Southern

Arizona cruised to a 26-point victory on Thursday night. Read on for a closer look at the win, including the player of the game, key moments, and more.

Arizona got off to a good start and held the lead for a majority of the game on Thursday night. The Wildcats' 69-43 victory over Southern was never really in question, though the game was kept moderately close throughout the night. Here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Player of the Game:

Aaron Gordon – The freshman went off on Thursday, finishing with 21 points. I was tempted to go with Brandon Ashley due to Gordon's poor performance at the free throw line, but his motor and aggressiveness on defense give him the edge.

It wasn't a big rebounding night for Gordon, as he only grabbed four, but the forward was incredibly efficient from the floor, making eight of his eleven shots and hitting his only long ball attempt.

Key Moments:

  • It was just moments into the game, but Southern had already taken the lead 3-2 when the Wildcats took it back for good. Great defense by Arizona forced a bad shot as the shot clock wound down. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast to take the 4-3 lead. After another good defensive possession, T.J. McConnell found Gordon on the fast break with an alley oop for the freshman's first points of the night.

  • Just moments later, the Jaguars cut the lead back to one at 6-5. That was when Arizona started to take over. Ashley responded with a hook shot and a layup. Gabe York came off the bench and hit a three-pointer before McConnell hit a jumper of his own. After the nine-point run, the Wildcats found themselves up 15-5

  • Southern wouldn't let that be the end of it. A small 5-1 run for the Jaguars cut the lead down to six before Arizona went on a massive 15-3 run over a nine-minute span to break the game wide open.

  • Early in the second half, Ashley missed a three-pointer on the Wildcats' end of the floor and Javan Mitchell hit a jumper on the opposite end to cut the Arizona lead down to just ten. It was the closest Southern would get to the Wildcats for the remainder of the game.

    Gordon tipped in his own miss at the other end and Arizona never looked back, taking the largest lead of the night, 26, with just ten seconds remaining in the game.

    Stats of the Night:

    34-12: Despite missing the biggest player on the roster for the night, Arizona continued to dominate down low. The Wildcats outscored the Jaguars 34-12 in the paint. It shows a lot about this Arizona team that it can still be so effective on offense and defense without the team's only true center.

    General Thoughts: One of the biggest things I take away from this game is how well the Wildcats played without Kaleb Tarczewski. The rebounding took a dip for the game, but it was still a six-board advantage in favor of Arizona.

    The offense and defense were still great in the post though. The Wildcats did a quality job scoring down low as well as being big on defense against a mediocre frontcourt on the other side of the ball.

    Another thing that I took away from the game was how Arizona was able to pull away and win the game decisively despite having a relatively bad offensive night. The Wildcats hit just 22 of their 48 shots from the field, making just 3 of 11 from behind the arc. What's worse is that Arizona only made 22 of their 37 free throws. Given, many of those misses came at the hands of Aaron Gordon, but had they been more effective from the line, the game would have been much uglier than it was.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "You can see our size around the basket without Kaleb isn't the same," Miller said. "Everybody on this team has to be locked in and ready to contribute.

    "If guys can't be out there for whatever reason, other players have to be ready to play and have to embrace that role. We have to adjust to not having Kaleb right now, but we are capable."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "My shot is fine; I feel like my mechanics are good," Gordon said. "I think I just need to pick a spot on the rim and go with it. I think I'm looking too much and thinking about it too much. It's something I'm not worried about. Before shoot-around we have to shoot 100 free throws and I made 85 of them. I know I'm going to continue to improve and I'm improving as we speak."

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