Zeke Nnaji proves again why he's the best player for Arizona men's basketball

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Amy Bailey and Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Freshman Josh Green (0) jump sup to dunk the ball during the second quarter of the Arizona-San Jose State game at the McKale Center on Thursday November 14, 2019. The Wildcats defeated the Spartans 87-39.

After shots wouldn’t fall early for Arizona men’s basketball, Zeke Nnaji took over in the first half with 12 points. The Wildcats went up by 22 at halftime and they wouldn’t look back and eventually won 87-39 over San Jose State at the McKale Center.

Zeke Nnaji has been Arizona’s most consistent and best player so far this season and that didn’t change on Thursday night. The freshman averaged 19.5 points per game during the first two games and finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds against SJSU. He was perfect from the field (8-8) and was 10-12 from the free throw line. Nnaji has been incredibly efficient through his first three games here and credits his teammates.

"[My teammates] get me the ball in great spots," Nnaji said, "and the coaches have a good offense that's been working so far and just continuing to go with the go of the flow that the offense has been helping me.”

This game also saw the return of sophomore Devonaire Doutrive. He had been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. While he scored 12 points, it was shaky for him in the beginning, as he missed a dunk for his first shot attempt. While the starters didn’t have their usual big night, there was solid production from the bench. Stone Gettings and Jemarl Baker Jr. both added big points in the first half to stretch the Wildcats lead. 

“It was a good experience for our guys to have to deal with that [matchup zone],” Head Coach Sean Miller said. "For a lot of guys that was their first experience playing against that type of defense and it takes them a couple of opportunities for them to settle in and get comfortable."

The second half started off a lot like the first; sloppy. Arizona didn’t make a field goal for the first five minutes of the half until Doutrive hit a three for his first points of the season. But a lot like the Illinois game, Arizona went on an 21-0 run to put the game away. One of the biggest critiques against Miller during his 10 years at Arizona has been that he can't play against a zone. After the game, Miller had this to say:

"We had 87 and we could've scored more if you take out the first four minutes of the second half," Miller said.

Other notes from the game include Arizona giving up 13 offensive rebounds and finishing with eight turnovers. Chase Jeter and Dylan Smith continued to struggle for Arizona as they combined for 5 points while playing 38 minutes. 

Arizona’s next game will be Sunday at noon against New Mexico State at the McKale Center and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. The Aggies won 30 games last year and could be a better opponent than people might think. Miller said "they could be one of the toughest teams we play all season."


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