Arizona Basketball

Three observations of Arizona Wildcats’ rout of Oakland

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T.J. McConnell dishes one of his 10 assists, this one to Stanley Johnson on the break (YouTube screen shot, click on photo to access video)

T.J. McConnell dishes one of his 10 assists, this one to Stanley Johnson on the break (YouTube screen shot, click on photo to access video)

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ARIZONA 101, OAKLAND 64

1. T.J. McConnell has another no-turnover game.

The Arizona senior point guard who became headline-news this week because of his cold shooting from the field, was about as spectacular a point guard can be despite scoring only four points against Oakland. He produced 10 assists with no turnovers in 26 minutes.

McConnell has gone without a turnover in three games this season. The other games were against Cal-Irvine (with four assists in 36 minutes) and Gardner-Webb (eight assists in 28 minutes). McConnell has 67 assists with only 20 turnovers this season.

McConnell also had a productive game with the hustle stats — five rebounds and three steals — in a game in which an Arizona player could lose focus because of the rout.

“T.J. is one of those dudes that doesn’t really have to score points to affect the game,” said Brandon Ashley, who was influential in the game with his 15 points and seven rebounds.

2. Very important that Arizona kept its concentration in second half.

Largely because of McConnell’s steady, yet intense, influence at point guard, Arizona did not play sloppily in the second half after committing nine turnovers with only seven assists in the first half.

Arizona led 45-25 at the half despite leading 33-8 with less than seven minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats went into a higher gear in the second half — shooting 66.7 percent from the field and committing only two turnovers with 14 assists. That was a promising development for Miller know knows his team goes into its first true road game at UTEP on Friday night playing at its best.

“We played fast and unselfish,” Miller told KCUB (1290-AM) play-by-play announcer Brian Jeffries, referencing Arizona’s clean play in the second half.

The Wildcats (11-0) will need to exhibit confidence at Don Haskins Center on Friday night. Miller is noticing his team is playing more that way, especially on the offensive end.

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[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]”Even in some of our victories we were not ourselves on offense but very good on defense,” Miller told Jeffries. “We’re starting to see confidence from the starting lineup. We’re playing with more confidence on offense.”

3. Oakland coach gets tossed, which leads to a funny line by Miller.

When asked during the postgame press conference if he has been ejected from a game, like his good friend Greg Kampe of Oakland tonight, Miller responded: “I don’t know, but there’s one time I would’ve liked to have been. You can take that to the bank.”

Miller most likely referenced the “He touched the ball” episode at the Pac-12 tournament two years ago against UCLA in Las Vegas.

The ironic thing about that statement is former Pac-12 director of officiating Ed Rush reportedly placed a bounty on Miller for a referee to run Miller from the gym. Miller was assessed a technical foul in that game, his first of that season. He has not been T’d since.

Kampe became the third opposing coach to be ejected from a game at McKale Center in the last 30 years. Gary Williams was tossed when he coached Boston College against Arizona in 1985. Former Oregon State coach Craig Robinson was ejected in a 2009 game in Tucson.

CAT CLAWS: Miller had the quote of the night saying, “I think Kaleb Tarczewski is the best front court defender in the country. He means the world to our defense.” Tarczewski had three steals and made Oakland center Corey Petros obsolete in the game before Petros (12 points and eight rebounds) fouled out. Tarczewski has eight steals, which equals Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s total and is more than what Gabe York (six) has produced. McConnell leads the team with 27. … The Wildcats improved their non-conference regular-season winning streak to 38 games and their winning streak at McKale to 29 games. They have also won 32 straight games in which a healthy Ashley has played from start to finish.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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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