The No. 5 ranked Arizona men’s basketball team secured a trip to the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City after defeating Rhode Island 87-59 Tuesday night in McKale Center.
With 15:20 remaining in the game, the Wildcats commanded a 30-point lead and at one time were up by 31. At the second media timeout, Arizona led the Rams 61-35.
Overall, Arizona shot 33-for-57 from the field, 7-for-16 from three-point range, and 14-for-20 from the free throw line. With 5:30 left in the half, the Wildcats found themselves up by 20. At the last media timeout Arizona led by 29.
Junior shooting guard Nick Johnson compiled his first career double-double and though he flirted with a triple-double, he ran out of time. Johnson put up a team-leading 20 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.
Sophomore forward Brandon Ashley became the first of four Wildcats to break into double digits as he quickly added six points and a block over his first two minutes in the period. Ashley ended the night converting 5-of-8 field goal attempts for 16 points. He also added six rebounds.
Freshmen Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued to enjoy success early in the season and combined shot 10-for-19 and accounted for 25 of the Wildcats’ 87 points. Gordon finished the night with 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Hollis-Jefferson collected 13 points, two rebounds, an assist and a block.
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17