Arizona Basketball

No. 1 Arizona Wildcats have resources to keep opponents off balance


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This is what being No. 1 brings ... national exposure on ESPN and elsewhere (ESPN screen shot)

This is what being No. 1 brings … national exposure on ESPN and elsewhere (ESPN screen shot)

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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 73, USC 53
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS

Player Pos PP MIN PR
*Brandon Ashley PF 28 31 .903
*T.J. McConnell PG 30 36 .833
*Nick Johnson SG 23 35 .657
*Aaron Gordon SF 20 33 .606
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 8 21 .381
*Kaleb Tarczewski C 5 32 .156
Gabe York SG -2 11 -.182
LESS THAN 10 MIN
Jordin Mayes PG 0 1 .000
TOTAL TEAM 112 200 .560

ARIZONA BEST STARTS

Record Team Finish Coach
17-0 2013-14 ??? Sean Miller
16-0 1931-32 18-2 Fred Enke Sr.
14-0 2012-13 27-8 Sean Miller
12-0 1987-88 35-3 Lute Olson
9-0 1914-15 9-0 Pop McKale
9-0 1921-22 10-2 James Pierce

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ArizonaLogo logo.USC2

USC dares Arizona to shoot from the perimeter by packing in its 2-3 zone, and a hobbled Gabe York (ankle sprain) misses all three of his three-point attempts.

The Wildcats’ resource: T.J. McConnell, a point guard who was 0-for-7 from three-point range in the first three Pac-12 games. McConnell looks like Steve Kerr, drilling 5 of 7 three-pointers.

Arizona enters its 73-53 victory over USC Sunday night ranked 254th nationally with only 5.5 steals per game.

The Wildcats’ resource: Nick Johnson ties a career-high with five steals by himself against the Trojans. Arizona finished with 10 steals and helped cause 18 USC turnovers.

Kaleb Tarczewski has only two points against USC after scoring a career-high 16 points in the win over UCLA last Thursday.

The Wildcats’ resource: Brandon Ashley produces one of his best performances, scoring a season-high 19 points with four assists to maintain Arizona’s presence inside.

This is how dangerously resourceful Arizona’s seven-player rotation is presently: In the last six games, six different players have led the Wildcats in this site’s productivity rating (Ashley against USC, York against UCLA, Johnson against Washington, Tarczewski against Washington State, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson against NAU and Aaron Gordon against Southern).

Gordon and McConnell have led the Wildcats in productivity rating in only one game apiece to this point, yet they are as solid as any player at their position in the nation.

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The most important elements of Arizona’s close-knit team do not show up in the box score: The attitudes, basketball intelligence and never looking for a pat on the back. In a game in which Arizona could lose its focus — USC was routed by UCLA and ASU in its previous two games — the Wildcats gathered themselves when they were pressed into action.

Arizona coach Sean Miller, with his demanding style, understands a breakdown but will not tolerate one if a lack of effort is involved.

After McConnell threw a lazy pass that was stolen late in the second half against USC, Miller could be heard yelling: “Wake up!” to his point guard with that familiar intense look on his face. This was after McConnell made one of his five three-pointers to give him a season-high 16 points at that point.

A team does not start 17-0 by having a sense of entitlement. Not one of Arizona’s players feel deserving. Moments after beating USC, McConnell mentioned “practice” a couple of times, not in the way Allen Iverson infamously said the word. Practice has a positive overtone with the Wildcats even if it means running wind sprints.

“We have to take it one step at a time and that starts with practice,” McConnell told the Pac-12 Networks.

The Wildcats maintain their balance and focus because each player knows he can do better. Nick Johnson, a candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year, is not close to reaching the zenith of his potential at the collegiate level. He led the Wildcats with 112 assists last season with only 66 turnovers. His ratio is not as good this year with 42 assists and 33 turnovers.

TOP FIVE ARIZONA REBOUNDING TEAMS

Margin Team Avg Opp Games
19.3 1950-51 59.5 40.2 30
10.8 2013-14 39.4 28.6 17
9.7 1976-77 46.7 37.0 27
8.3 1975-76 47.2 38.9 33
8.1 1998-99 41.7 33.6 29

Tarczewski did not miss a field goal in Los Angeles (6-for-6 against UCLA and 1-for-1 against USC) but he was 2-for-10 in the previous game against Washington.

Gordon is a 46.8 percent free-throw shooter. He also shoots only 50 percent (82 of 164) from the field. For a player with his size, athleticism and ability to establish a presence around the basket, he should be shooting closer to 60 percent.

Derrick Williams, similar in style to Gordon, shot 58.6 percent from the field in his two-year career. If Gordon shot similarly, he would have 95 field goals instead of 82, which translates to approximately 26 more points. Arizona might need those 26 points from him in games down the stretch.

This list can extend to every player. Miller is impressive in the way he makes each of his players realize that individual and team achievements are not judged until the last shot is attempted in the NCAA tournament.

“Like I’ve said before, whether it’s about the No. 1 ranking or winning the most games in a row at the beginning of the season, it’s not as if that’s the end goal,” Miller told reporters after the USC game. “This is our path.”

PAC-12 STANDINGS

CONF OVRL
W-L GB PCT W-L PCT STRK
#1 Arizona 4-0 1.000 17-0 1.000 W17
California 3-0 .5 1.000 12-4 .765 W4
#15 Colorado 3-1 1 1.000 14-3 .824 L1
Washington 3-1 1 .750 11-6 .647 W2
UCLA 2-1 1.5 .667 13-3 .813 W1
Arizona State 2-2 2 .500 13-4 .813 L1
Stanford 1-2 2.5 .333 10-5 .667 W1
#17 Oregon 1-3 3 .250 13-3 .813 L3
Utah 1-3 3 .250 12-4 .750 L2
Oregon State 1-3 3 .250 9-7 .563 L1
Washington State 1-3 3 .250 8-8 .500 W1
USC 0-3 3.5 .000 9-7 .563 L3

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LONGEST WINNING STREAK

Games Season(s) Coach
22 1914-1917 J.F. "Pop" McKale
19 1992-1993 Lute Olson
19 1997-1998 Lute Olson
17 2013-2014 Sean Miller
16 1987-1988 Lute Olson

ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Nick Johnson SG 17 17 397 527 .753
Aaron Gordon SF 17 17 331 514 .644
Brandon Ashley PF 17 17 307 484 .634
Kaleb Tarczewski C 15 14 251 400 .628
R. Hollis-Jefferson SF 17 2 235 390 .603
T.J. McConnell PG 17 17 269 524 .513
Gabe York SG 17 1 150 317 .473
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Matt Korcheck PF 8 0 21 41 .512
Elliott Pitts SG 6 0 8 35 .229
Jordin Mayes PG 16 0 13 90 .144
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Jacob Hazzard PG 7 0 11 19 .579
Trey Mason SG 6 0 7 16 .438
Erik Conklin F 6 0 7 16 .438
Drew Mellon F 5 0 2 11 .182
Zach Peters C 4 0 -3 16 -.188
TOTAL TEAM 2006 3400 .590

ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:

Name (Year) G S PP MIN PR
Derrick Williams (2011) 38 38 1190 1141 1.043
Sean Elliott (1989) 33 33 1128 1125 1.003
Chris Mills (1993) 28 28 838 870 .963
Sean Elliott (1988) 38 38 1167 1249 .934
D. Stoudamire (1995) 30 30 964 1092 .883
Mike Bibby (1998) 35 35 905 1124 .805
Jason Terry (1999) 29 29 877 1107 .792

ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM

Season Rec. Pct.
1987-88
December 21-January 3 3-1 .750
January 11-February 7 6-1 .857
1988-89
February 6-February 12 1-1 .500
February 27-March 13 5-0 1.000
1997-98
November 20-November 30 4-1 .800
2000-01
November 20-November 26 3-1 .750
2002-03
November 23-December 22 5-1 .833
January 20-February 2 3-1 .750
February 10-March 16 7-1 .875
2013-14
December 9-January 12 8-0 1.000
TOTAL 45-8 .849

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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS

Date Opponent Results TeamPR Productivity Leader Pos PP MIN PR
Jan. 12 @USC 73-53 (W) .520 Brandon Ashley PF 28 31 .903
Jan. 9 @UCLA 79-75 (W) .570 Gabe York SG 16 18 .889
Jan. 4 Washington 71-62 (W) .580 Nick Johnson SG 34 36 .944
Jan. 2 Washington St. 60-25 (W) .510 Kaleb Tarczewski C 20 22 .909
Dec. 23 NAU 77-44 (W) .660 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 30 27 1.111
Dec. 19 Southern 69-43 (W) .535 Aaron Gordon SF 28 29 .966
Dec. 14 @Michigan 72-70 (W) .530 Kaleb Tarczewski C 23 26 .885
Dec. 11 N.M. State 74-48 (W) .555 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 22 23 .957
Dec. 7 UNLV 63-58 (W) .450 T.J. McConnell PG 29 35 .829
Dec. 3 Texas Tech 79-58 (W) .570 Brandon Ashley PF 32 28 1.143
Nov. 29 Duke 72-66 (W) .590 Kaleb Tarczewski C 21 28 .750
Nov. 27 Drexel 66-62 (W) .505 Nick Johnson SG 31 36 .861
Nov. 19 Rhode Island 87-59 (W) .685 Nick Johnson SG 39 26 1.500
Nov. 18 Fairleigh Dickinson 100-50 (W) .890 Nick Johnson SG 30 20 1.500
Nov. 14 @San Diego State 69-60 (W) .490 Nick Johnson SG 29 31 .935
Nov. 11 Long Beach State 91-57 (W) .790 Brandon Ashley PF 28 21 1.333
Nov. 8 Cal Poly 73-62 (W) .565 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 20 21 .952

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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