Fans eagerly watched this year’s talent face off as the red team defeated the blue team 44-38 in front of a sold-out crowd at McKale Center and more than 7,000 online viewers Saturday afternoon for Arizona basketball’s annual Red-Blue Game.
During the postgame press conference, head coach Sean Miller said he thinks the team’s defense is ahead of its offense. He added that he didn’t expect the game to generate a lot of good shots.
Junior T.J. McConnell established his role as a pass-first point guard. Freshman forward Aaron Gordon began the festivities on a good note, being crowned the 2013 Dunk Contest champion by the judges after completing a 360-degree through-the-legs slam-dunk. The judges panel consisted of former Wildcats and current assistant coaches Damon Stoudamire and Joseph Blair, former head coach Lute Olson, UA president Ann Weaver Hart and former Arizona player Corey Williams.
During the intrasquad scrimmage, Gordon put up a double-double, scoring 12 points while gathering 13 rebounds and had a team-high three assists.
“That’s how he plays, he’s a slasher,” said sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski. “He likes energy plays, dunks and put backs, is a great rebounder and really aggressive. Just overall [he] is a great player.”
In his first time suiting up as a Wildcat, freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson performed above expectations, compiling 18 points to go along with four rebounds and two steals, shooting 8-for-12.
He shared game-high honors in points with Tarczewski.
Miller said Hollis-Jefferson played as well as he did because of his work ethic every day in practice. He also added that while Hollis-Jefferson has a lot of talent defensively, he still has to learn defense at the collegiate level.
Hollis-Jefferson additionally impressed fellow teammates like sophomore forward Brandon Ashley, who said he felt Hollis-Jefferson rose to the occasion in his first game in McKale.
“He came out really aggressive and fired up,” Ashley said. “His energy level has always been big to his game, and he kept that up today.”
Sophomores Ashley and Tarczewski showed their summer training paid off with 32 points between the two of them.
Tarczewski was 6-for-7 from the field and made 6-of-9 free throws, earning 18 points and three rebounds.
Ashley finished with a double-double, scoring 14 points and 12 rebounds while going 6-for-9 from the floor and stepping up as an offensive and defensive leader.
“Brandon is just an overall better player,” Miller said. “He played a lot of minutes on a very good team last year, had a terrific summer and knows what it takes [to succeed].”
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17