Arizona had to come from behind, but was able to pull out a 71-54 victory over UC-Irvine to move to 3-0 on the season. Here’s a closer look at what happened:
Arizona Player of the Game:
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – The sophomore was once again a model of energy off the bench for Arizona. The small forward hit four of his seven shots in the game, but his real value came at the free throw line, where Hollis-Jefferson connected on 11 of 13 attempts, which led to him finishing with 19 points on the night.
Hollis-Jefferson also grabbed six rebounds and had a block, though he did have three turnovers.
Stat of the Night:
85.3 - The Wildcats put all of the poor free throw shooting juju to rest against the Anteaters, hitting 85-percent of their shots from the foul line. Arizona converted 29 of its 34 free throw attempts, outscoring the Irvine 29-9 at the charity stripe.
Gabe York was a liability on defense for several possessions throughout the night, Stanley Johnson turned the ball over too much, and no one seemed to be able to find their shooting touch.
Just like last year’s team, this team will play to the very end and just wear teams out. Mamadou Ndiaye had nothing left at the end of the game and neither did many of his teammates. Arizona will win games like this one all season, just keeping it close until the other team can’t hang with it anymore.
Sean Miller Quotable:
”We were tested tonight in a really big way,” Sean Miller said. “That is not a function of us not playing well. That is a function of the quality of UC-Irvine.
”You can see they have the makings of a great season. They won 23 last year. We played them for a large part because we thought we would get a lot of credit for playing them and hopefully defeating them.
"I not only feel great about the victory, but I believe our team grew up tonight. We had an eight or six minutes stretch there defensively in the second half, which we’ve done a couple times. We can’t play any harder or more together on defense.”
”I told him I was going to do that,” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said about his dunk over Ndiaye. “It was all really Stanley (Johnson). He found me as I was cutting down the middle.
"I made eye contact and my eyes got really big. I knew I had him when I saw him turn slow. I went up and from there, the rest was history. I definitely told my teammates that I was going to dunk on him.”