Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs. USC

Arizona started out slow, but eventually pulled away from USC to win and move to 17-0 on the year. Read on to find out how the Wildcats did it, who the co-players of the game were, and more.

Arizona didn't want to have a letdown game on Sunday night after a big win over UCLA on Thursday. The Wildcats got off to slow start, but had enough to pull away late and beat the USC Trojans 73-53. Here's an analysis of what happened:

Arizona Co-Players of the Game:

Brandon Ashley – The sophomore forward wasn't a factor at all in the win over UCLA. However, he was a very large part of the reason that Arizona won on Sunday. Ashley finished with a season-high 19 points, hitting seven of his ten shots, and grabbed two rebounds on the night.

The forward was also able to stay out of foul trouble throughout the game, as he finished with just three. This is a positive sign for his future after his early season struggles with defense and fouls.

T.J. McConnell – The point guard had his best offensive game at Arizona on Sunday, following up a great performance against UCLA. With his team struggling to score points in the first half, McConnell stepped up and hit a few key shots, which led to his offensive onslaught as the game wore on.

McConnell finished with a season-high 19 points, making five three-pointers in the process. He wasn't just a scorer, though. The junior dished out six assists, while turning it over just twice.

Key Moments:

  • It was a slow start for Arizona, but the Wildcats finally got on track midway through the first half. Leading by just one, T.J. McConnell was dared to shoot a three-pointer by the USC defense. The point guard drained it and gave the Wildcats a four-point lead at 14-10. He added another bucket to give Arizona a six-point lead.

  • The lead didn't last long. USC played tough defense on the Wildcats while Julian Jacobs and Strahinj Gavrilovic hit back-to-back long balls to tie the game at 16.

  • The lead dipped into USC's favor for a few minutes, but the Wildcats were able to recover by halftime. Trailing by four, Arizona went on an 11-0 run towards the end of the half. The Wildcats entered the final minute up by seven, but back-to-back turnovers led to two USC layups and both teams went to the locker room with Arizona up by three.

  • Even though USC had momentum going into the second half, Arizona stole it right back immediately. Brandon Ashley hit a jumper, Kaleb Tarczewski got in the mix with a dunk and Johnson hit a three during a 8-0 run in the first five minutes of the half.

  • After jumping out to a big lead, Arizona didn't look back until USC was right on its tail again. The Trojans cut the lead to five with nine minutes to go in the game, but two quick baskets by Ashley and McConnell put an end to that.

    Over the next four minutes, both teams traded baskets and with five minutes left in the game, the Wildcats led just 55-47. That was when Arizona took off, ending the game on a 18-6 run.

    Stats of the Night:

    3: Arizona looked much better in the second half than it did in the first. That may be because the Wildcats had just three second-half turnovers. Arizona only had eight turnovers for the game, which is a tremendous feat, but the ball security down the stretch was what gave the Wildcats an extra edge late in the game.

    In comparison, USC had 12 second-half turnovers after only having five in the first twenty minutes.

    General Thoughts:

    This wasn't necessarily a trap game, but it played like one. Arizona came out with a hangover from the UCLA win and USC was ready for it. The Trojans played a competitive first half and threw the first punch before the Wildcats could even steady themselves.

    It has been similar in other situations throughout the season for Arizona. The Wildcats will let a team hang around for a majority of the game and then the competition can't seem to keep up in the last few minutes. The same was the story at the Galen Center, as USC was able to put together a solid first half, probably one of the best of the year, and keep the game close.

    With that being said, Arizona was able to do what it has done all season and put teams away down the stretch. Over the final five minutes of the game, USC made just three baskets, with one coming on a dunk as the clock was winding down. It is that kind of a run late in the game that has made Arizona special this season.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "He (Ashley) was the best player on the team," Miller said. "He did a good job in the high post. When you do zone defense, someone has to make top of the key shots. Brandon did that."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "We were just trying to stay poised the last few minutes of the game and really just had a defensive mindset to really lock down," Johnson said. "They're a good team and we knew that coming in. They gave us their best shot and they had us for a little bit, but we rallied back and stayed with it."

  • Wildcat Authority Top Stories