Arizona Player of the Game:
Nick Johnson – It may not have been his best performance of the season, but it was pretty darn close. Johnson finished with 22 points, hitting 9 of his 18 shots on the night. The junior guard was a force on the offensive end of the court, getting to the rim at will.
Johnson was also very active on the defensive side of the ball. He came up with a steal and grabbed all four of his rebounds on the defensive glass. He was the true difference maker in this one.
Shortly after, Johnson drilled a three-pointer in the corner and got McKale Center rocking. Arizona used the momentum and went on a 12-0 run capped off by a Gabe York basket and the foul.
After a missed shot by Utah, Johnson took to the lane again, slashing towards the basket before letting a floater fly with ease over the defense, giving his team a 59-49 lead, as Arizona never looked back.
Stats of the Night:
20: On Thursday night, Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller was upset with his teams' rebounding effort. He must have gotten through to his players as the Wildcats out-rebounded the Utes 40-29 in the game. Twenty of those Arizona rebounds came at the offensive end of court, compared to Utah's nine. Those 20 offensive boards led to 19 second chance points.
Arizona was slow to start the game, but eventually found a way to pull it out. The Wildcats started the game 1-9 from the field, but found a way to fight back and keep the game close and in their favor towards the end of the game.
It was the perfect example of a game where Arizona was able to wear down the opponent until late in the game when it was able to take over.
It may get looked over, but Aaron Gordon very quietly had a double-double in the game. He finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds on the night, but made his presence known on the offensive glass, grabbing seven of the twelve rebounds off of missed Wildcat shots.
He didn't have the best game offensively, but he found a way to be effective without being a scoring machine, which is what separates him from most of the other freshmen in the country.
In addition to Gordon's effort, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did a great job on the glass as well. It seemed that every time Arizona missed a shot, either Gordon or Hollis-Jefferson was there to corral the ball. Both were instrumental to Ariozna remaining undefeated.
The Wildcats got the Utes best shot and will continue to get the best shot from each team for the remainder of the season. Going on the road to the Bay Area won't be an easy trip for Arizona. In fact, it may be the hardest road trip remaining on the schedule for Arizona.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"Nick Johnson is playing as well as any guard in the country," Sean Miller said. "It is that simple. He's the reason we are number one, the big games that we've had. He's done it in the biggest moments. He's terrific. I'm not even talking about offense. I'm talking about leadership and playing more than one position, defending the other team's best perimeter player. He's a heck of a player right now for us."
"My all-around game wasn't too well," Aaron Gordon said. "Rebounding comes naturally to me and I was just taking out my frustration on the rebounding.
"I learned from a young age that if things aren't going your way, then you have to do some things to turn the tide and make it go your way. So I was focusing on defense and rebounding. The ball wasn't going in the rim tonight, so I was focusing on other aspects.