Arizona Basketball

Three top observations of Arizona Wildcats’ 68-54 win over Colorado



This dunk by Stanley Johnson midway through the first half ignited McKale Center and boosted the freshman (ESPN screen shot)

This dunk by Stanley Johnson midway through the first half ignited McKale Center and boosted the freshman (ESPN screen shot)

[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

1. Stanley Johnson answers the bell.

The freshman forward was much more assertive on both ends than what was seen last Sunday at Oregon State in Arizona’s upset 58-56 loss.

After attempting only four field goals in 28 minutes at Gill Coliseum, Johnson was the only Arizona player to have double-digit field goal attempts. He made 7 of 15 shots to finish with a career-high 22 points.

Most impressively, Johnson was dominant in all aspects. His aggressive play to the rim allowed him to shoot a team-high nine free throw attempts, making eight of them. He also had eight rebounds, three assists (with only one turnover) and two steals in 32 minutes.

“We needed Stanley to score and he did,” Arizona coach Sean Miller told play-by-play announcer Brian Jeffries of KCUB (1290-AM) after the game.

Johnson only had one field goal attempt in the last 16:30 of the game at Corvallis. He was 0 for 3 from the field in the first 10:12 of the game tonight before his steal and breakaway dunk uncorked things for him. He made three of his last five shots in the half that helped Arizona build a 35-25 halftime lead.

The chance for the two Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei High School alumni — Johnson and Colorado’s Xavier Johnson — was nullified by Xavier Johnson’s ankle sprain that kept him in street clothes.


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

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 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:


[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

2. Miller lauds performance of Brandon Ashley and Elliott Pitts.

Johnson had his best scoring night as a college player, but Miller told Jeffries, “Elliott Pitts‘ four three-pointers and Brandon Ashley’s 11 rebounds are the two best stats for us tonight. Moving forward, that’s what we want those guys to do.”

Pitts’ 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range was as uplifting as Johnson’s scoring to Arizona’s confidence and execution on offense. Pitts also finished with a career-high in scoring with 12 points.

He was 0 for 5 from beyond the arc in Arizona’s previous three games. The Wildcats were 6 of 28 from beyond the arc at Oregon and Oregon State last week. They made one more three-pointer against Colorado with a 7-of-18 performance from beyond the arc.


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]


Arizona’s perimeter game will be crucial Saturday against Utah, which has the size, depth and athleticism to match with the Wildcats in all phases. If Arizona is cold from outside the paint, the Utes will put the clamps on Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the mid-range to post-area game.

Gabe York did not play tonight because of a tweaked ankle. If he can’t go Saturday, that places more importance on Pitts and his ability to drill the three-pointer against the Utes.

Ashley, matching his career high with his 11 boards, took advantage of the absence of Colorado center Josh Scott (back spasms). Miller pointed out to Jeffries that in the three previous games against ASU, Oregon and Oregon State, Ashley had only eight rebounds.

“We have stressed that (rebounding) with him,” Miller said of Ashley, who entered the game averaging 5.1 rebounds a game. “He made us very proud of him.”

3. Colorado: Askia and you shall receive.

Miller also mentioned that Colorado guard Askia Booker had a performance reminiscent of Jimmer Fredette’s McKale Center-record 49 points in BYU’s 99-69 win over Arizona in 2009.

Booker was the Buffaloes’ only double-figure scorer with a career-high 30 points on 11 of 17 shooting, including 6 of 9 from three-point range. The next-highest scorer was Jaron Hopkins’ eight points. other than Booker, Colorado made 10 of 32 shots.

If Booker shoots to his percentage (40.1), he makes seven shots instead of 11. That’s at least eight less points, which increases Arizona’s winning margin to at least 22 points.

“The only guy to me who’s played better here is Jimmer Fredette,” Miller told Jeffries. “If Booker had a couple of more shots, he would have got to 40. We did not have an answer for him.”

Hollis-Jefferson, who mostly drew the defensive assignment against Booker, could not even get the Colorado guard out of his rhythm. Miller did not utilize a zone defense, which he thought of using after the loss to Oregon State.

Booker was outspoken after the game about Colorado avoiding a rout, with his scoring, despite the absence of Xavier Johnson and Scott. Zack Rosenblatt of The Arizona Daily Star tweeted this reaction:

Rosenblatt also tweeted this:

This follows the brash-talking style of Xavier Johnson after Colorado’s loss at McKale Center last year:

After that comment, the Wildcats, who have a five-game winning streak against Colorado, beat the Buffaloes 88-61 in Boulder, Colo., and then 63-43 in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas.

Perhaps Booker is trying to kindle a fire for the Arizona-Colorado rivalry, which is one-sided as of late. 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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top