Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats on pace for special season in many ways

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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)


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ArizonaLogo TexasTechlogo

The Arizona Wildcats are only eight games into the season with another five non-conference games to complete before finishing 18 regular-season Pac-12 games.

They are more than a quarter of the way through the regular season now, which is early to draw conclusion from trends. But what trends they are. We can at least marvel at them for now. Note: I will reference 23 regular-season games remaining but the Wildcats have the possibility of playing nine more games after that (three in the Pac-12 tournament and six in the NCAA tournament).

T.J. McConnell's 10 assists against Texas Tech on Tuesday night puts him on pace to achieve more than 200 this season.

T.J. McConnell’s 10 assists against Texas Tech on Tuesday night puts him on pace to achieve more than 200 this season.

>> T.J. McConnell, a junior point guard, has 55 assists to go with only 17 turnovers. If he maintains that pace over the next 23 regular-season games, he will be at approximately 213 assists and 49 turnovers, a better than 4 to 1 ratio of assists to turnovers. Only four Arizona players have achieved at least 200 assists in a season. Damon Stoudamire and Russell Brown reached that mark twice. Brown holds the record with 247 in 1978-79.

>> Nick Johnson, a junior shooting guard, is on his way to score 531 points through the regular-season schedule. That would give him 1,246 in his Arizona career. If he stays through his senior season and the Wildcats make deep postseason runs this season and next, the possibility exists that Johnson could reach 2,000 career points, joining Sean Elliott (2,555) and Bob Elliott (2,131) as the only UA players to achieve that feat.

>> Brandon Ashley, a sophomore power forward, is shooting 63.2 percent from the field. If he maintains that pace, he would be second to only Al Fleming, who holds the UA season record at 66.7 percent shooting in 1973-74.

>> Aaron Gordon, a freshman forward, is averaging 9.1 rebounds a game. If he maintains that average, it would be the highest for an Arizona freshman since the Wildcats joined the Pac-10 in 1978. Fleming holds the freshman rebounding record with 9.9 rebounds a game in 1972-73.

>> Kaleb Tarczewski, a sophomore post player, already has 14 blocked shots after tallying 23 last season. Tarczewski is on pace to block 40 shots in the regular season. That would be the most for a player in the Sean Miller era.


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Arizona: Five-game win streak vs. title coaches

With the win over Texas Tech, Arizona is 3-0 against Tubby Smith after the Wildcats improved to 5-3 against Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski last week in the NIT Season Tip-Off title game. In consecutive games against coaches who have won a national title — Smith captured one with Kentucky in 1997-98 — the UA won each game to improve their mark to 8-3 against them.

The Wildcats beat another coach who won a national title — San Diego State’s Steve Fisher — earlier this season. Fisher won the title with Michigan in 1989 after he replaced Bill Frieder, who was hired by ASU before the NCAA tournament began that season.

Dating to last season, when Arizona defeated Florida’s Billy Donovan at McKale Center and Fisher’s team in Honolulu, the Wildcats have a streak of five consecutive wins against national championship coaches.

Opportunities abound for Gordon

Aaron Gordon is the only Arizona averaging at least 30 minutes a game

Aaron Gordon is the only Arizona player averaging at least 30 minutes a game

The freshman forward is the only Arizona player who eclipses 30 minutes a game, averaging 30.4 minutes a game. An interesting observation to this point is Gordon has yet to lead Arizona in productivity rating, but he is No. 2 overall with a .724 rating behind Johnson’s .872 mark. A rating of close to .800 or more has translated into a conference player of the year honor for six different Wildcats (see accompanying graphic).

Gordon has skills and a motor that does not stop. His major points of emphasis is his free-throw shooting and turnovers. He made only 4 of 12 free-throw attempts against Texas Tech and is now shooting 48.8 percent (20 of 41). He also has 13 turnovers. Arizona’s frontcourt starters Gordon, Ashley and Tarczewski combine for 44 turnovers, an average of more than five per game.

An ideal mark for a team is less than 10 turnovers. If the frontcourt starters average more than five, it puts pressure on the guards (who handle the ball the most) to limit their turnovers to one or two each a game. That’s difficult to achieve over 40 minutes.


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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and


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