Arizona Basketball

Three observations of Arizona Wildcats’ rout of Michigan



Stanley Johnson goes up for a one-handed jam on an alley-oop pass from Gabe York (YouTube video screen shot, click on photo to access video)

Stanley Johnson goes up for a one-handed jam on an alley-oop pass from Gabe York (YouTube video screen shot, click on photo to access video)

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1. “New” Gabe York?

The evolution of Gabe York’s game continues into his junior season.

York’s perimeter defense, matched with that of teammate Stanley Johnson, helped limit the looks of Michigan’s top scorer Caris Levert. Entering the game, Levert attempted 13 field goals a game while scoring 17.7 points. He could only get nine off against Arizona and made just two of them. He finished with eight points, his lowest output in the last eight games.

“We defended well as a team,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said when asked by play-by-play veteran Brian Jeffries on KCUB (1290-AM) after the game. “I thought that was Stanley Johnson’s best defensive game by far.

“Gabe did a good job on offense, too. He had four assists with no turnovers. He takes care of the ball. He is an understated passer. His pass to Stanley Johnson on the (alley-oop) lob in the first half was one of our best plays all year.”

York had a season-high 12 attempts from the field, making six of them, including three from three-point range. He finished with 15 points.

His 15 assists with only four turnovers is indicative of how the Wildcats have played under control most of the season. Arizona’s guards (York, T.J. McConnell, Parker Jacskon-Cartwright and Elliott Pitts) have 105 assists with only 31 turnovers.

“We are a high-assist and low-turnover team,” said Miller, whose team had 19 assists with 11 turnovers against Michigan. “As this season has evolved, we’re starting to become that kind of team again (like last year and during the Lute Olson era). That’s important.”

2. Stanley Johnson high on the Bilastrator.

Johnson, the freshman phenom, played to his pre-game billing on the ESPN national telecast. In addition to his defense, which Miller commented about, Johnson made 8 of 10 shots from the field for 17 points in 27 minutes. He also grabbed seven rebounds with a blocked shot and a steal.

During the telecast, ESPN commentator Jay Bilas indicated that Johnson is the No. 2 freshman in the nation presently behind Duke center Jahlil Okafor. Bilas showed this on his “Bilastrator”, which actually looked like an iPad screen.


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“Stanley Johnson is just a man-child,” Bilas said. “He has done everything in this game. He has defended well. He’s gone after it on both ends. He is excellent in transition.

“He is a guy who is becoming a complete player. If he can become more of an effective perimeter player he will become unstoppable in college.”

3. Arizona was unstoppable inside the three-point line.

So much for that theory of college basketball is going by way of the three-point line. The Wildcats are proving that games can be dominated inside the arc.

Arizona made 26 of its 38 attempts (68.4 percent) inside the three-point lane against Michigan. The Wildcats made their first seven such attempts at the start of the game. Arizona’s starters were 18 of 24 (75 percent) from inside the arc.


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The Wildcats had 42 points inside the paint compared to Michigan’s overall total of 53. The Wolverines, who did not record an individual offensive rebound until 7:56 remained in the game, had only 16 points in the paint.

KCUB (1290-AM) analyst Ryan Hansen, who sits close to the Arizona bench, said in the postgame show that he overheard Miller exclaim many times: “Get it inside! Get it inside!” The Wildcats, who outrebounded Michigan 40-24, played to their strength by flexing their muscle inside.

Arizona’s starting frontcourt of Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley combined to make 17 of 22 field goal attempts with 49 points, again coming close to Michigan’s total output.

Tarczewski had 15 points (on 5 of 6 shooting from the field) and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

Miller did not hesitate to heap praise on Tarczewski in his interview with Jeffries: “This was Tarczewski’s best game of the season.”

Ashley contributed 10 points and six rebounds. Dating to last season, Arizona has won 31 consecutive games in which a healthy Ashley has played from the tip to the final buzzer.

Arizona also has a 37-game regular-season non-conference winning streak and a 28-game home winning streak. Next up: Oakland (Mich.) on Tuesday before Arizona has its first true road game at UTEP on Friday. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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