Arizona Basketball

Three top observations of Arizona Wildcats’ 80-62 win over Oregon



T.J. McConnell had his best game as an Arizona Wildcat (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

T.J. McConnell had his best game as an Arizona Wildcat (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

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1. Shut-down defense on Joseph Young the difference.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Co. were too much for the Pac-12’s leading scorer, who let his emotions show with a technical foul in the second half. Young, who averaged 20.1 points a game entering the game, finished with 12 points on 4 of 15 shooting from the field.

Young went without a field goal for almost a 22-minute stretch after making a three-pointer with 11:40 remaining before halftime. Even more impressive is Young had only four field-goal attempts in that span.

The performance against Young — aided by point guard T.J. McConnell — follows the shutdown of ASU leading scorer Savon Goodman on Sunday. Young and Goodman combined for 35.9 points a game entering their meeting with Arizona. They combined to score only 14 points on 4 of 18 shooting from the field.

In Arizona’s last three non-conference games against Oakland, UTEP and UNLV, the opposing leading scorer had more points than his season average.

Oregon State, Arizona’s opponent Sunday, is led by Gary Payton II, who averages 12.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Goodman, by the way, had only two points in 18 minutes against the Beavers tonight in ASU’s 55-47 loss.

2. McConnell plays best game as a Wildcat.

McConnell’s career best of 21 points at Arizona included dazzling drives to the basket, an aggressive offensive display uncommon for the senior point guard. This was a rare game in which McConnell was a shoot-first, past-second player.

He finished with 14 field-goal attempts, almost doubling the next player. Brandon Ashley and Hollis-Jefferson each had eight.


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father (a Vietnam War POW) and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:


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McConnell made nine of his shots, including his only three-point attempt. Arizona only made two from beyond the arc in the game, a 2-for-11 performance, but it did not matter.

The Wildcats controlled the paint because of how McConnell shot from all over. He drew defenders and Stanley Johnson’s aggressive drives to the basket opened Arizona’s offense even more.

That resulted in Kaleb Tarczewski getting plenty of uncontested looks inside off of penetration. He recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Five minutes into the game, Tarczewski already had six points and four rebounds.

“He started off confident and physical,” Miller told Brian Jeffries of 1290-AM. “He set the tone for tonight’s win.”

3. Arizona’s free-throw shooting pays dividends.

Arizona’s free-throw shooting was not the reason the Wildcats won the game but it helped their confidence as the game developed.

Arizona made 24 of 30 shots from the line after making all four of its attempts in the first half. The 20 of 26 shooting in the second half helped the Wildcats stave off any potential Oregon threat.

Arizona’s free-throw percentage was 65.9 percent as a team entering the game. That percent of 30 equals 19.77 made free throws. That means four less made free throws for Arizona if the Wildcats shot to their percentage.

The Wildcats won by 18 so what’s the big deal about four free throws? Because what if those were on the front end of a one-and one situation and Oregon converted on the other end? That changes the complexion of the game.


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[/ezcol_1half_end] 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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