Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs UC-Irvine

Arizona was able to come from behind to beat UC-Irvine on Wednesday night 71-54. Read on to find out who the player of the game was, what the key moments were, and more.

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.

Key Moments:

  • UC-Irvine took its first lead of the night with 7 minutes to go in the first half. After a turnover on an inbounds play, Travis Souza hit a three ball to put the Anteaters ahead 16-14. A poor Arizona shot gave the Irvine the ball and Alex Young buried a long ball for the 19-14 lead.

  • Arizona got right back into the game, using a 7-0 run to take the lead back. Two Brandon Ashley free throws and a Gabe York three pointer to tie the game at 22 got the McKale Center crowd out of its seats. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson banked a shot in from the lane and the Wildcats took the lead.

  • The Wildcats took their first lead of the second half with just under eight minutes remaining. Hollis-Jefferson was fouled by Mamadou Ndiaye, giving the big man his fourth foul and forcing him to the bench, giving the wing two free throws. Both were good and Arizona took the 47-46 lead.

  • The Arizona Wildcats finally got things going late in the game using a 15-0 lead to take the lead back from UC-Irvine, but more importantly Arizona as able to extend that run throughout the end of the game as the Wildcats outscored the Anteaters 30-8 over the last ten minutes of the game.

    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.

    General Thoughts:

  • Overall, I think Arizona learned plenty from the game against Irvine. Sean Miller finally showed who he trusted on the court in the tight game and his rotation shrunk significantly in the second half. That being said, the six guys that he was playing did not do particularly well until the final ten minutes of the game.

    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.

  • That being said, there were plenty of positives in the win as well. The Wildcats outlasted the dreaded zone, despite not being able to score from outside. Arizona was trailing by three at halftime and as many as six in the second half, but the Wildcats were able to turn things around and use a massive run to put the game away.

    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.”

    Wildcat Quotable:

    ”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.”

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