Arizona won for the first time in Matt Knight Arena on Thursday night. Read on to find out who the player of the game was, what the key moments are, and more.
Arizona came out hot and pulled away late for an 80-62 win over Oregon. Here’s a closer look at what happened:
Arizona Player of the Game:
T.J. McConnell – The point guard played what could be his best offensive game of his Arizona career, finishing with 21 points on 9 of 14 shooting, including several nifty moves around the basket. He also dished out three assists and grabbed five rebounds. Arizona needs McConnell to be more involved like this for the rest of the season.
Arizona came out on fire as the Wildcats jumped out to an early 8-0 lead. Both teams traded a few baskets, but T.J. McConnell put Arizona ahead 15-4 with a wide open three pointer.
Early in the second half, Arizona began to grow its lead. Leading 46-37, Joseph Young was whistled for a technical foul and the Wildcats were able to turn it into two free throws for Gabe York and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The Wildcats pulled out to a 50-37 lead and never looked back.
Oregon made several mini runs over the course of the second half, but couldn't quite get over the hump. The Wildcats put the game away for good with a Hollis-Jefferson layup to give Arizona the 78-60 lead with 1:26 to go in the game.
Stats of the Night:
80 - Arizona shot a lot of free throws in the game and the Wildcats made a lot as well. They collectively made 24 of their 30 free throws, 80 percent, with no player missing more than two. The Wildcats have been good from the line after the abysmal performance at UNLV.
I was really impressed with the way that McConnell played throughout the game. He was attacking the basket and making plays. He didn't pass as much as he normally does, but it was nice to see that he still had the offense flow through him.
All five starters are key to the success for the Wildcats and McConnell showing that he has the ability to step up and have a big offensive game is a very bright spot as the season progresses.
Overall, I thought the game would be close and it was for the most part, but it never really felt close. Arizona was in control for the entire game and even when Oregon was trying to get back in it in the second half, it never felt like the Wildcats were going to lose. That comes from the confidence of the players on the court and was something that had been lacking in a few games so far this season.
Sean Miller Quotable:
”We are a better free throw shooting team than what we've shown this year,” Sean Miller said. “We've talked a lot about it. Over the break, we put a lot of emphasis on it and I think it is starting to show.”
”(Miller) said to go out there and play my game,” T.J. McConnell said. “We knew that teams in the Pac-12 were going to try and let me score because I pass so well. I took advantage of the open lanes and my teammates did a great job of screening for me. All credit to them.”