Group effort leads Arizona basketball to a 21-point win
The story of the season so far for the University of Arizona men’s basketball team after two games can be described as “a tale of two halves.”
Arizona only held a nine-point lead at halftime against Houston Baptist in the first game on Wednesday, before outscoring the Huskies by 21 in the second half to win comfortably.
Cal Poly only trailed at the half by seven Sunday, using six made 3s in the first half to make up for seven turnovers. The ‘Cats then proceeded to outscore the Mustangs by 14 in the second half, on their way to an 82-61 victory.
Arizona used a 20-0 run in the second half to open up its first double-digit lead of the game and never looked back. The run was highlighted by back-to-back 3s from Dylan Smith, who finally broke out of his shooting slump.
Smith had been 1-12 in his last two games shooting the ball but didn’t let his slump affect his play.
“There aren’t too many players that play harder than Dylan,” head coach Sean Miller said postgame. “He reminds me of the track that a guy like Kyle Fogg was on in that by the time he got to the end, he was one of our conference’s best perimeter defenders. I think Dylan has that makeup.”
Smith was awarded the Hustler and Defender of the Game awards after the win against Houston Baptist Wednesday.
“He’s trying to make as many plays as he can to help his team win,” Miller added.
Arizona had four players in double figures, led by Ryan Luther with 17 points. Chase Jeter had 16, Smith 12, and Brandon Randolph finished with 10.
“I don’t think as much with this year’s team [that] we have a guy who is going to fill up the scoreboard like Allonzo [Trier], Rawle [Atkins] and DeAndre [Ayton] last year,” Jeter said. “Any night, any guy can have their go, the effort level just needs to be there.”
Arizona did a much better job of limiting turnovers today, only turning the ball over seven times along with 16 assists. Arizona also out-rebounded the Mustangs by 10 and held them to only 38 percent from the floor. The ‘Cats were able to force 17 Mustang turnovers, leading to 21 points.
Brandon Williams led the way for Arizona with 8 assists to zero turnovers. Over his first two collegiate games, the freshman has 13 assists and zero turnovers.
“Bouncing him back and fourth between two positions is not easy,” Miller said of Williams' role. “Game one was a very frenetic, denying man-to-man team who thrived on forcing turnovers, and tonight was a college matchup zone. For him to have 13 assists and zero turnovers I think is a good sign for him and our team.”
Arizona also welcomed back Ira Lee after serving his one-game suspension for a code of conduct violation. The sophomore finished with six points to go along with eight rebounds on the night.
“Having another guy to handle his own down there takes a lot of pressure off of me and Chase,” Luther said.
Arizona has one more tune-up before they head off to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. The 'Cats face visiting UTEP Wednesday in McKale Center with tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m.
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