What went right, what went wrong in the Arizona Wildcats' win over San Diego State
Tyler Baker/ The Daily Wildcat
What went right
Playing in foul trouble
Arizona (3-0) might not have depth in number of bodies, but its bench players can play at multiple positions. Thursday night, they used that depth to defeat San Diego State 69-60.
UA forward Aaron Gordon started strong but found himself in foul trouble, along with starting power forward Brandon Ashley, starting center Kaleb Tarczewski and starting shooting guard Nick Johnson. Head coach Sean Miller had Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to bring off the bench though.
The versatile sixth man came off the bench and filled in for the players in foul trouble. The freshman scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds. Most importantly, he played strong defense.
The Aztecs love to run and have one of the best transition offenses in the country. But the Wildcats’ defense contained SDSU by getting back on defense and grabbing rebounds.
Aztec forward Josh Davis’ baseline presence made him a highly touted recruit this off-season after he decided to transfer from Tulane.
Thursday, Arizona held Davis, who was eighth in the country last season in rebounds, to two points and four rebounds.
In order to run the court, you must rebound the ball. The Wildcats prevented the Aztecs from doing that with excellent second-chance offensive rebounds.
Arizona finished the game with 39 rebounds, but more impressively 13 offensive rebounds.
The UA scored 12 points on second-chance opportunities.
What went wrong
It’s going to take time, but the quicker Arizona can get used to the new hand checking foul, the better. Thursday, the UA was clearly plagued and frustrated by the new rule.
While Gordon had a fantastic start to the game, making his first five baskets and scoring 12 points out of the gate, he found himself in early foul trouble and had to spend some time on the bench. The early foul trouble might have forced him to play more tentatively.
Gordon wasn’t the only Wildcat with early foul trouble. Ashley, Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson had two fouls at the midway break as well. Hollis-Jefferson fouled out with roughly five minutes remaining.
The Arizona defense wasn’t as physical as it needed to be to limit the late run by the Aztecs. York, where did you go?
In Arizona’s first two games, sophomore guard Gabe York shone. He scored double-digit points and was a huge threat as a deep ball shooter. York was also a floor general by finding open shooters and not turning the ball over.
In the team’s first big game of the season, York disappeared a little bit, scoring four points, and was 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. The Wildcats need York to be that three-point threat off the bench if they want to win future big games.
York also finished with zero assists.
No fast break points
A characteristic of this Arizona basketball team will be its athletic transition offense. The Wildcats’ offense is predicated on playing strong defense and turning that into quick points.
Thursday, Arizona only had four fast break points. As the season progresses, especially in big games like Thursday’s, Arizona will need to be more effective in transition.
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella