The No. 5 Arizona Wildcats lead Rhode Island 43-19 at halftime in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The Wildcats found an early rhythm and were up 6-0 before Rhode Island put up its first points of the night to make it 6-2 with 16 minutes remaining, but remained quieter than usual to begin the game after a 100 point offensive onslaught Monday night against Fairleigh Dickinson. At the first media timeout, Arizona was ahead by six and possessed an 8-2 lead. After 8:30, the Wildcats had only put up only 10 points.
Junior guard Nick Johnson contributed with a team-leading seven rebounds and five assists and added eight points in the half. After missing his first three field goal attempts, the Wildcats’ starting shooting guard sunk a three-pointer to extend Arizona’s lead to seven with 10:00 remaining. Johnson has put up double-digit points in each of his first four starts this year.
Of Arizona’s first 25 points, 22 came from within the paint with Johnson’s three pointer accounting for the remaining. With 5:00 left, Arizona found itself up 27-11. At the last media time out, the Wildcats held on to an 18-point lead. Arizona’s largest lead came with 0:07 remaining and stood at a 24-point difference.
Junior point guard T.J. McConnell put up seven points but added only two assists after collecting nine last night.
Sophomore forward Brandon Ashley shot 2-for-5 compiling seven points and two rebounds. Starting center Kaleb Tarczewski added four points, three rebounds, an assist and a block at the close of the first half. Tarczewski found himself in early foul trouble after compiling three personal fouls in 15 minutes.
Arizona has sunk 3-of-9 attempts from three-point range. The team also went 4-for-8 in free throw attempts.
The Wildcats’ sixth man, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, has shot a flawless 3-for-3 and compiled seven points, a block and a rebound.
Freshman forward Aaron Gordon continued to impress early after putting up his third double-double over his first four starts last night against FDU. Gordon found himself with six points, two rebounds and a block in his first six minutes of action. He finished the half with eight points, four rebounds, a block and an assist.