Tucson, AZ – The #1-ranked Arizona Wildcats (18-0, 5-0) took control of Arizona State from the start en route to an easy 91-68 win over the Sun Devils. Nick Johnson led seven Wildcats in double-figures with 17 points. Jahii Carson led the Sun Devils with 20 points. Arizona State played without their best shooter, Jermaine Marshall, who was out with a groin injury.
Arizona ran out to a 26-8 lead and rolled to the win. The Wildcats played very efficiently offensively with 21 assists on 34 made baskets. They shot 55.7 percent from the field while limiting the Sun Devils to 34 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers.
Arizona is playing their best basketball of the season and has been steadily improving as players get set in their roles. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell (6.2 apg) has been the distributing point guard the team needed while Nick Johnson (16.3 ppg) is the leading scorer and unquestioned team leader. The starting frontcourt features three NBA players to be, led by super frosh Aaron Gordon (12.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg). Besides his obvious athletic skills, Gordon has proven to be an unselfish team player, an efficient scorer and excellent rebounder.
The improvement of both Brandon Ashley (12.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Kaleb Tarczewski from their freshman seasons has possibly been the most important part of the puzzle. Add to that the energy of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (7.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and the shooting from Gabe York (7.2 ppg, 42 percent 3PT) off the bench and the Wildcats have the makings of a favorite to win the NCAA title.
The 7’0″ Tarczewski’s improvement has been most evident. He’s gotten stronger, in better shape, he’s running the court better and is able to play more minutes. His numbers are all up from last year. His field goal percentage has improved by over 5 percent, his free throw percentage by over 14 percent and he’s blocking 50 percent more shots. His scoring average is up almost 50 percent (6.6 ppg to 9.8 ppg). He seems much more comfortable within Arizona’s offense especially in posting up. Tarczewski would be projected to be taken in the second round in the 2014 NBA Draft. If he’s smart he’ll return to Tucson next year. If he continues his improvement at the same rate, he’ll be a lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.