Eugene, OR – The Arizona Wildcats (14-1, 2-0) came to Eugene tonight to test the over-achieving Oregon Ducks (11-4, 1-1). All five Wildcat starters scored in double-figures led by point guard T.J. McConnell with 21 points as Arizona gradually pulled away in the second half for a 80-62 victory. The game was a tough match-up for the smaller Ducks made more so by 6’6 Elgin Cook’s foul trouble. Cook was not a factor (six points, two rebounds in 11 minutes) and fouled out with 8:31 remaining.
McConnell was effective all evening, shooting well (9-of-14), with five rebounds, three assists and only committing one late turnover. Stanley Johnson (14 points, seven rebounds, three assists) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (13 points, nine rebounds) continued to impress and used their physicality to their advantage. 7-foot Kaleb Tarczewski added a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) scoring mostly on dunks off penetration by either Johnson or McConnell. Arizona used their height and strength to dominate the boards with a +13 advantage. Jordan Bell had a solid game for Oregon with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Joseph Young led the Ducks with 12 points but shot only 4-of-15.
Arizona took a 39-34 lead at halftime in a fairly evenly played half. Oregon closed the lead the three points on two occasions but couldn’t come up with the big shot. The Wildcats repeatedly found center Tarczewski inside for dunks off penetration. Johnson (three assists) found Tarczewski (10 first half points with seven rebounds) twice. Point guard McConnell shot the ball well (4-of-7) and ended the half with nine points. Dillon Brooks and Young led a balanced Duck attack with seven points each. Arizona had a +4 advantage on the boards and neither team shot well from long distance going a combined 3-of-14.
Arizona’s bookend NBA-to-be wings Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson continued to impress primarily with their defense. Hollis-Jefferson came up with two steals, both resulting in breakouts. Johnson saw the court very well and penetrated and dished on several occasions. Both are extremely strong, will attack the basket and generate trips to the foul line. Tonight they combined for 16 attempts at the line, making 13. While both can improve their mid and long range shooting, that’s the least thing to worry about. With their strong bodies, defensive instincts and team play both will be first round picks in the 2015 NBA Draft. Johnson can be a top-5 pick while Hollis-Jefferson may go in the lottery.
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