Arizona Basketball

Hollis-Jefferson tough as steel in No. 1 Arizona Wildcats’ rout of New Mexico State


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WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
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)

ARIZONA 74, NEW MEXICO ST. 48
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS
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ArizonaLogo opp.NMSUlogo

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson told Pac-12 Networks broadcaster Matt Muehlebach, who knows what it’s like to play for a top-ranked Arizona Wildcats team, that his favorite player is Kobe Bryant.

Hollis-Jefferson’s one-handed jam over New Mexico State’s Renaldo Dixon in Arizona’s 74-48 drubbing over the Aggies was Kobe-esque. His motor is Kobe-esque. His will to win is Kobe-esque.

This is a freshman who is young enough and spirited enough to be oblivious to Arizona’s first No. 1 ranking in 11 seasons. Instead of looking caught up in the moment, his tenacity caught New Mexico State off guard.

RondaeHJefferson

In terms of former Arizona Wildcats greats, Hollis-Jefferson has the athleticism of Andre Iguodala. He has the drive of Reggie Geary. He has the team-first mentality as a Sixth Man similar to the greatest bench player in Arizona Wildcats history — Jason Terry.

“Right now, he’s one of our best offensive rebounders … He’s relentless,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller, noting Hollis-Jefferson’s team-high eight rebounds against New Mexico State. “I thought he had three or four great passes tonight. Defensively, he’s getting better with every day of practice because he’s working really hard at it.

“A lot like Aaron (Gordon), they’re very versatile in their approach. Tonight, Rondae and Aaron were never guarded. I think it’s hard not to guard two players as good as them.”

Miller was commenting about New Mexico State’s myriad of zone defenses and gimmick defenses, including a 1-3-1 alignment, that rarely left somebody squarely between Arizona’s skilled players and the basket.

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Failing to put the clamps on somebody like Hollis-Jefferson, a Chester, Pa., native, is like matador defense against a bull. In Pennsylvania terms, it’s like closing your eyes against the Steel Curtain.

Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell, a Pittsburgh native, said of Hollis-Jefferson: “He’s just a hard-nosed Pennsylvania guy.”

“That’s how he always plays,” McConnell continued. “He plays like that in practice and I tell him, ‘We need that energy from you day in and day out.'”

ARIZONA FIRST GAME AFTER NO. 1 RANKING
a-Lost at Oklahoma on Feb. 12, 1989. b-Lost to Purdue 72-69 in Indianapolis on Nov. 25, 2000.
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Miller is from Ellwood City, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh. Miller does not show up to practice with a hard hat, but his team can picture him that way. Hollis-Jefferson and McConnell play tough as steel. Makes you wonder if Miller should only recruit the state of Pennsylvania.

The Wildcats followed suit from Lute Olson’s teams by showing toughness immediately after their No. 1 ranking. Arizona improved to 10-0 in its first game after achieving top-ranked status with its 26-point rout of New Mexico State. The Wildcats’ margin of victory in the first game after reaching the top is a remarkable 31.3 points.

Arizona is now 38-8 overall as the No. 1-ranked team, an astounding winning percentage of .826. Not once in 10 different times in the program’s history have the Wildcats lost two consecutive games after establishing themselves as the nation’s top team.

TOP FIVE ARIZONA REBOUNDING TEAMS

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And to think the Wildcats had the image of being a finesse team under Olson. Nothing soft about them. Under Miller, finesse is not in the vocabulary.

Arizona is outrebounding opponents by a 14.3 average margin (41.5 to 27.2) a game. The previous high was 8.1 in the 1998-99 season when A.J. Bramlett and Michael Wright helped UA outrebound opponents 41.7 to 33.6.

The largest margin in the modern era is 9.7 in 1976-77 behind the efforts of Phil Taylor (10.8) and Bob Elliott (9.3). The record is 19.3 set by the Arizona team led by Leo Johnson’s 12.3 rebounds a game in 1950-51, the first season rebounding stats were kept.

Rebounding strong is a sign of toughness, a characteristic Arizona needs playing at Michigan’s Crisler Center on Saturday 10 a.m., Tucson time. The Wolverines, behind burly center Mitch McGary, are outrebounding visitors 39.8 to 27 this season. McGary is averaging 10.4 rebounds overall in his last five games.

“We have to come together as a team in huddles and say, ‘Next play.’” McConnell said. “That’s pretty much our mentality: Next play and move on.”

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ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:

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ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM

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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS
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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net 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 TucsonCitizen.com.

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