Wildcats Start Season with a Blow-Out

Arizona proved that the polls were not wrong. The Wildcats played like the nation's best team in their 107-68 victory over Western Kentucky. The Wildcats' pressure defense kept the Hilltoppers off balance all day allowing the Wildcats to win their eighth straight season opener.

The Wildcats had seven players in double figures, but it was the defense that paved the way to the easy win. The Wildcat press forced 28 turnovers and limited Western Kentucky to just 36% shooting in the first half.

Hassan Adams was the offensive star, pumping in 22 points in his first official game as a Wildcat. He shot 9-of-12 from the field and added three assists and four rebounds.

With roughly 6:00 left in the first half, the Wildcats led 35-10, then went on a 16-0 run to break the game wide open and went into the half with a 53-25 lead, due in large part to 55% shooting.

The Wildcats continued to pour it on in the second half, jumping on the Hilltoppers with a 12-2 run. Led by Adams who put up 15 second half points.P>

"If we want to win, we have to destroy whoever we play," Adams said of the blowout. "That's if it's a top 20 team or not." 

Jason Gardner was held scoreless in the first half but put up 12-points in the second 20:00 of play. The senior point guard added four assists and three steals.

Western Kentucky was led by senior David Boyden, who finished with game-high 26 points on 11-17 shooting. Despite Western Kentucky's experienced and quick guards, the Wildcats were simply too deep for the Hilltoppers. The Wildcats' scoring was well balanced as seven Wildcats finished in double figures. The Wildcats also out-rebound the Hilltoppers 42-25, including  17 offensive boards.

"They are an incredible team," Western Kentucky's head coach, Dennis Felton said. "That's the best, most effective press that I've ever (coached) against in my whole career."

Lute Olson called off the press midway through the second half, but was pleased with the defensive effort.

"Defensively, we are getting there," Arizona coach Lute Olson commented post-game. "We are doing a  better job of anticipating the plays and the passes, and that's the way to get turnovers.Today was a case of too much quickness and too much size at the wing spots for Western Kentucky to be able to handle."

The Hilltoppers missed big-time center Chris Marcus. Without the potential All-American center in the game, the Wildcat big men were able to run roughshod over Western Kentucky. Channing Frye was 5-of-7 from the field with 10 points and nine rebounds.

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