There was some concern that this would be a close game because Arizona was going on the road to a place where it has not had much recent success. Instead, the Wildcats put together one of their best games of the season and it is hard to find too many complaints.
It’s not a coincidence that Arizona got off to a fast start when it finally started its best lineup for the first time this season. By now you know how we feel about this starting lineup and it makes sense to play the five best players as much as possible.
T.J. McConnell was a different player than he has shown this season and that wasn’t a bad thing. He was much more aggressive than he has been and took advantage of a player in Casey Benson that simply could not guard him. It felt like he hit three or four jumpers where he dribbled past the basket and then shot the turnaround.
McConnell can set up his teammates with the best of them, but when he is hitting jumpers and scoring like he did on Thursday, it makes him just as dangerous. Oregon had to account for him on every offensive possession and that consistently hurt the Ducks defensively.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is Arizona’s best defender and he showed it with what he did to Joseph Young. Oregon’s best player barely got any clean looks and finished with as many turnovers as made field goals. The Ducks had no chance of winning without a superior performance from Young and Hollis-Jefferson insured that was not going to happen.
Kaleb Tarczewski finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. He was able to establish himself early both offensive and defensively and proved he can be a factor. His biggest issue right now is consistency, but he continues to show glimpses and you hope that he can eventually find a way to be successful on offense more often than not.
Stanley Johnson did one of his best jobs of the season in choosing when to be aggressive and when to let the game come to him. He only turned the ball over twice and was 8-10 from the free-throw line. Johnson is Arizona’s best scorer and when he is efficient and making smart decisions, Arizona is obviously much better for it.
Free-throws deserve a mention, as Arizona went 24-30 from the line. It’s the second game in a row that Arizona has done well at the line and you have to wonder if the slump is over, but it will probably take a few more games for us to be comfortable saying that.
Any time you can go on the road and win in the Pac-12, it’s a big win. Arizona will go for a sweep on Sunday and seems to have bounced back nicely from the UNLV loss.