Fueled by play of Randolph and Williams, Arizona beats Western New Mexico 95-44
The Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team opened up the season Tuesday night in McKale Center with a 95-44 exhibition win over visiting Division II opponent Western New Mexico.
After an opening basket by the Mustangs, the Wildcats unleashed a 24-0 run, triggered by some hot shooting. The two Brandons, Williams and Randolph, started the game with back-to-back three pointers, followed by two layups by Williams. Randolph had 20 points on 6-8 from the floor, including connecting on all five of his three-pointers, looking much more comfortable in a role that expects him to score this season.
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"I have a bigger role than last season," Randolph said. "I believe anybody can step up both offensively and defensively. We all can score the ball."
Williams was certainly no slouch either. In his first game in front of the home fans, he had 14 points on 6-11 shooting while sharing the backcourt with Justin Coleman.
“Even when Brandon makes mistakes, he’s eager to fix them,” head coach Sean Miller said postgame. “We have high expectations for him. He’s bouncing back between two positions. He’s in charge of the other four players and running the team, being a playmaker, then being freed up to score. It’s gonna take some time for him to settle in and be comfortable.”
Arizona took a 48-15 lead into halftime, holding Western New Mexico to 4-26 from the floor, including 0-7 from three. The Mustangs shot just 25 percent from the floor, including 3-15 from three. Arizona was also able to force 17 turnovers and out-rebounded Western New Mexico 50-30.
While the blowout win was definitely a positive, Arizona does have some things going forward they will have to fix against better competition. The Wildcats had 15 turnovers throughout the night, only two less than they forced from Western New Mexico. Arizona was also aggressive in attacking the basket but shot just 10-19 from the free-throw line.
Even though starting center Chase Jeter missed tonight’s game with an undisclosed injury, the Wildcats out-rebounded the Mustangs 50-30. Two Wildcats besides Randolph and Williams also scored in double figures. Ryan Luther had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Ira Lee continued the strong play from the Red-Blue game, finishing with 10 points on 4-5 shooting. Lee will begin serving a one game suspension for his DUI citation back in August when the Wildcats open the regular season against Houston Baptist Nov. 7.
“I was pleased with our effort,” Miller said. “I thought our guys tried to play together. At this time of year, great effort and playing unselfish are at the top of our list.”
Arizona has one more exhibition game this Sunday against Chaminade in McKale Center. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
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