Arizona men's basketball smothers ASU in 28-point win

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Arizona head coach Sean Miller.

Arizona men’s basketball dismantles ASU 75-47 to open conference play at the McKale Center.

Despite only shooting 27% from three, Arizona played its best defense of the year against an ASU team that struggled everywhere. The Wildcats picked up a big win to open their conference schedule, especially after Oregon and Washington dropped their openers. 

Arizona was led by Zeke Nnaji and Josh Green offensively, as the pair combined for 29 points. But the rest of the starters and the bench helped out; everyone who played scored.

“I think it’s one of those games we needed to bounce back St. John’s,” Green said. “We know the mistakes we made and then we had close to two weeks of practice.”

Christian Koloko saw his time on the court increase, playing nearly 11 minutes and adding eight points. His impact was felt more on the defensive side, as he was everywhere last night. Koloko had 2 blocks and 6 rebounds but was deflecting passes and making it tough for the Sun Devils to score inside.

“Christian [Koloko] keeps on getting better,” Miller said. “You just don’t realize how long and tall he is … He switched a couple of their pick-and-rolls and there’s not a lot of seven-footers that can switch onto a guard and not fall down, let alone be adept to stopping the shot.”

While Nico Mannion didn’t make most of his points for Arizona until after the game was decided, he was still key for the Wildcats to break the full court press and set up plays. At the end of the first half though, Mannion bumped knees with Rob Edwards and was forced to miss the rest of the half. After halftime he would come back despite having a knee contusion. 

“I think he’s fine,” Miller said. That’s all he had to say about the situation, and Mannion seemed fine in the second half and played his regular amount of minutes at a little over 25.

Nnaji was his normal monstrous self last night, as he recorded another double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Despite the Sun Devils having Romello White back, Nnaji couldn’t be stopped inside. This is Nnaji’s third straight double-double and fifth overall this season. 

Arizona will travel to the Oregon schools next week and face No. 4 Oregon on Thursday in what could be one of the biggest conference games of the year for both teams, especially since Oregon dropped their opener to Colorado.


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