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The freshmen lead the way for Arizona men's basketball against Illinois

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Arizona freshman Nico Mannion (1) looks to the basket before shooting during the second period of the Arizona-Illinois game on Sunday November 10.

After a slow start, Arizona men’s basketball scored 51 points in the second half on its way to a big 90-69 win over Illinois at the McKale Center.

Arizona was led by its three freshmen starters tonight as they combined for 62 points on 25-for-40 from the field. Early on, it was Nico Mannion who was keeping Arizona close to the Fighting Illini who came out on fire, nailing their first three three-pointers. Illinois guard Trent Frazier lit up the Wildcats in the first half. He had 12 points on 3-for-3 from the three-point line and 4-for-6 overall. Defense has always been something that Head Coach Sean Miller has preached to his team and tonight was no different.

“That’s usually what it is for Coach Miller,” said freshman Josh Green. “It’s amazing. I love the way his system works. I love the defensive side of things. If we can continue to lock up on defense and try our hardest every single time up and down the court, we came here for a reason and we love it.”

After the Wildcats were able to weather the storm early, they took off in the second half. Max Hazzard ended the half with a three pointer at the buzzer to give Arizona the lead, and after that, they never looked back. The game from that point on was a game of runs, and every time Arizona got some breathing room, the Fighting Illini came right back to make it close. That was until 12:24 left in the second half, Kofi Cockburn made a dunk for Illinois to make it a 53-52 Arizona lead. Then, the Wildcats exploded for a 15-0 run to put the game out of reach for good. 

“When you’re in transition, when it’s good basketball, you have a number of different players that are threats,” Head Coach Sean Miller said. “We really have that in transition and sharing the ball and taking care of it. That’s the name of the game for us. We play fast.”

While Arizona ended up putting up 90 points, there were still things to work on.

Chase Jeter and Dylan Smith were the other two starters and only combined for 10 points. Stone Gettings and Jemarl Baker Jr. didn’t have the best games either, as they only had two points each. Max Hazzard had a big game, though, for Arizona, as he finished with 10 points and was the only other Wildcat in double digits. 

Arizona men's basketball's next game is Thursday, Nov. 14, at the McKale Center as they host San Jose State at 6 p.m.


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