Arizona Basketball

Top 5 observations of Arizona Wildcats vs. Cal State-Northridge



Arizona reserve point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright is congratulated  as he returns to the bench after another credible performance (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

Arizona reserve point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright is congratulated as he returns to the bench after another credible performance (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

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Top 5 observations of Arizona’s 86-68 victory over Cal State-Northridge while wondering if reserve point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright could start for at least half of the Pac-12 teams right now. …

5. Arizona dunks mucked up by Northridge.

Cal State-Northridge coach Reggie Theus told KTUC 1290-AM before the game that he wanted his team to “muck it up” to take Arizona out of its rhythm. That worked, kind of. Arizona had only two dunks, one each by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski, after producing nine in transition against Mount St. Mary’s on Friday.

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The Matadors wanted to slow the tempo, take care of the ball and send Arizona to the free-throw line instead of scoring easy baskets like a dunk.

Arizona went to the free-throw line 35 times, again struggling by making only 22. The Wildcats also gave away scoring opportunities with sloppy play, committing 18 turnovers.

Arizona scored 86 points because of the 22 points from the line in addition to making 8 of 18 three-pointers. They scored 34 points in the lane with most coming in half-court sets with penetration that resulted in high-percentage jumpers or lay-ins.

Another rarity aside from the two dunks: Only two blocked shots and they were by wing player Stanley Johnson and guard Gabe York, not a frontcourt player.

4. Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson dangerous 1-2 punch defensively

CSUN 6’6″ wing player Stephan Hicks can attest to life not being easy on the court with Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson as the primary defenders. Hicks averaged 17 points last year and scored 16 points at San Diego State on Friday.


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He was shut down, failing to make a field goal in five attempts. He did not grab a rebound and committed two turnovers with one assist in 22 minutes.

Hollis-Jefferson (who came off the bench again) and Johnson combined for 31 points on 12 of 18 shooting from the field. Hollis-Jefferson had eight rebounds while Johnson produced only one.

3. Defensive effort breaks down late in second half.

Expect some spirited practices in the next two days before Cal-Irvine visits McKale Center on Wednesday. The Wildcats allowed 45 second-half points to Cal State-Northridge after leading 37-23 at the half. Northridge had only 39 points as late as 9:16 left in the second half when Arizona led 66-39.


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From there, the Matadors outscored Arizona 29-20. In other words, in the last nine minutes, CSUN scored 75 percent of what it scored in the first 31 minutes. The Matadors made seven of their last eight field goals and scored the last nine points of the game.

That occurred when most of Arizona’s reserves were in the game but Miller found the breakdown unacceptable.

“They scored 23 points at halftime; you double that and it’s only 46,” Sean Miller told Brian Jeffries of 1290-AM in the postgame show. “In the last four minutes, we really broke down. Any time you give up 45 points in a half, it’s not good.

“It’s a sign of bad things coming unless we correct it.”

2. The good with the bad.

While the Arizona reserves broke down defensively, they held their own on the offensive end with 38 bench points. Hollis-Jefferson was responsible for 14 of them.

Shooting guard Elliott Pitts scored a career-high 10 points in 16 minutes and Jackson-Cartwright contributed seven.

The Wildcats’ bench outsored Northridge’s reserves 38-16.

1. Jackson-Cartwright pivotal reserve for Miller

Miller told Jeffries that the freshman point guard has a significant role for the Wildcats spelling senior T.J. McConnell.

“The role he has right now is to keep us going and add to our depth,” Miller said. “He will help us become a better team than we are right now.

“Usually, you are vulnerable as a point guard early in your freshman year. You feel like things are different. He’s come in and gave us quality minutes.”

Jackson-Cartwright had seven points, four rebounds, two assists without a turnover, and a steal in 14 minutes. In the season-opener Friday against Mount St. Mary’s he had eight points and two assists without a turnover in 11 minutes. He made three of his five three-point attempts in the games. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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