Arizona Basketball

Three top observations of Arizona Wildcats’ 90-56 rout of Oregon

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T.J. McConnell reacts to his steal and assist to Stanley Johnson in the second half (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

T.J. McConnell reacts to his steal and assist to Stanley Johnson in the second half (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

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1. Top to bottom, Arizona’s best performance this season.

Arizona had six players in double-figures (almost seven if Dusan Ristic scores one more point), shot 59.3 percent from the field, out-rebounded Oregon 34-20, committed only one turnover in the second half … but did they reduce the national debt? …

It was the kind of clinic Lute Olson’s teams ran against conference opponents deep into the season. Routing any team is not common in conference play because of the familiarity of the teams and the scouting involved. Arizona beat Oregon as thoroughly as any conference opponent at any time.

The Ducks were 4-3 in the Pac-12 and 14-6 overall entering the game. Oregon is not an NCAA tournament team, but it is battling for an upper-division finish in the conference.

Steve Rivera of FoxSportsArizona.com asked Sean Miller how this game ranks among Arizona’s best performances this season. Miller mentioned that the wins over Gonzaga and Utah stood out to him because of the caliber of the opponent.

T.J. McConnell, whose impeccable play was symbolic of how Arizona played, said the performance should not be viewed as out of the ordinary for the Wildcats.

“That kind of just shows that we can have those kind of nights on any given night that four or five guys are scoring in double figures,” McConnell said. “It shows how lethal we can really be.”

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2. McConnell did no wrong.

McConnell’s stat line: 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting from the field with five assists and no turnovers. He played his best game at Oregon three weeks ago, scoring an Arizona career-high 21 points. He made 9 of 14 shots from the field at Oregon.

Combining both games against the Ducks, McConnell was 14 of 19 from the field for 31 points with eight assists, six rebounds and two steals. He had only one turnover in a combined 62 minutes.

Bill Walton commented during the Pac-12 Networks broadcast that McConnell deserves consideration for the conference’s player of the year honors at the turn of the conference schedule

The highlight of the game was in the second half when Oregon nearly committed a shot-clock violation before McConnell stripped the ball, lost his balance as he moved upcourt and made a diving pass to Stanley Johnson, who made the basket and converted the three-point play after getting fouled.

Miller offered his approval of the effort by clapping near the bench. McConnell looked incredulously at Arizona’s Zona Zoo student section with an expression of “Are you kidding me?”

“Nobody is more important to Arizona than T.J.,” Miller said.

3. Could this finally be the “New York”?

If McConnell is the heart and soul for Arizona — which Miller indicated — Gabe York must be one of the valves near that heart.

When York is on his game and making perimeter shots, the blood flows smoother for Arizona. York scored a game-high 16 points, including a nine-point outburst in the second half that eliminated Oregon’s hopes for an upset.

After Oregon’s leading scorer Joe Young made a layup to cut the lead to 56-45 with 12:56 left, York went on a personal 9-0 run against the Ducks. His two three-point shots sandwiched a traditional three-point play.

York outplayed Young, who finished with only 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field. Young averaged 19.3 points a game entering the evening.

“It was good to see Gabe play the way he did,” said Miller, who noted that York has battled his way back from an ankle injury. “He looked like himself today, which was great for us.”

York was 3-of-6 from three-point range, which equals his performance over the three previous games.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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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