Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Analyzing Hollis-Jefferson’s tough road swing



One of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's few highlights vs. UNLV, a breakaway dunk ( video, click on picture to access video)

One of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s few highlights vs. UNLV, a breakaway dunk ( video, click on picture to access video)

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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)


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Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents. Arizona is No. 10 with a strength-of-schedule ranking of No. 77.
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Arizona’s players return to Tucson today from their Christmas destinations to begin practice tomorrow for ASU in the Pac-12 opener Jan. 4 at McKale Center.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson likely had a list of objectives to improve upon during his mini-vacation. He probably checked that list twice, like Santa does with his.

During the non-conference portion of the schedule, concluded Tuesday with a 71-67 loss at UNLV, Arizona’s most productive player was Hollis-Jefferson. His .781 rating in the 13 games was the best, followed by freshman wing player Stanley Johnson (.748) and junior forward Brandon Ashley (.602).

The competitive side of Hollis-Jefferson probably made him think more of his struggles in the last two games — at UTEP and UNLV — rather than his fast start when he led the Wildcats in productivity in the first four games of the season.

Hollis-Jefferson’s overall productivity rating went from .864 after the win over Oakland last week to the .781 mark now after the games against UTEP and UNLV.

Against the Miners and Running Rebels, Hollis-Jefferson had a productivity rating of only .233 in 43 minutes. He plummeted to a season-low rating of .111 against UNLV, a game in which he fouled out after playing only 18 minutes. Arizona’s first loss of the season coincided with Hollis-Jefferson’s lowest productivity rating of the season.


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Also coincidentally, after Hollis-Jefferson fouled out against UNLV with 7:14 remaining, the Wildcats made only one field goal. They were outscored 15-6 in that span. That means without Hollis-Jefferson, one of Arizona’s top defenders, UNLV scored 21 percent of its points in only a seven-minute stretch.

It was Hollis-Jefferson’s first foul-out of the season after averaging only two fouls per game entering the game.

He fouled out three times last season, twice against San Diego State and at Colorado. In those games, all won by Arizona, Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson had productive games to push the Wildcats over the top.

In Hollis-Jefferson’s absence against UNLV, nobody in particular stepped up down the stretch.

Senior T.J. McConnnell led the Wildcats in productivity against UTEP and UNLV, his two best performances of the season, the opposite of what happened to Hollis-Jefferson.

That shows more than anything the versatility Sean Miller has with his lineup. Seven different players led the Wildcats in productivity in the 13 non-conference games.

As Arizona heads into Pac-12 play and the grind of 18 conference games before the Pac-12 tournament in March, it must develop escape valves for potential foul problems for Hollis-Jefferson. Who will step in to fill that void if he gets into foul trouble?

The most obvious answer is Johnson, Arizona’s freshman sensation who starts ahead of Hollis-Jefferson on the wing. Johnson had 13 points and 13 rebounds against UNLV, but despite that, he finished with only a .500 productivity rating against the Rebels.

The loss makes it clear: Arizona can not afford to have both Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson — both of whom comprise the heartbeat of the team — to have unproductive games at the same time. Their value is to provide Arizona athleticism on the wing defensively and by creating scoring opportunities efficiently. Their role is to make their teammates around them better through their aggressive style of play.

That did not happen against UNLV and Arizona paid the price.


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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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