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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 3 Arizona puts up triple digits in explosive win over Oakland

Tyler Baker

The No. 3 Arizona Wildcats took 13 seconds to score their first two points of the game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Tuesday night, starting a trend that ended with the Wildcats putting up points fast and furiously en route to a 101-64 UA victory in the final home game of the 2014 calendar year.

For the Golden Grizzlies, points were nearly impossible to come by in the early going. After forward Jalen Hayes hit a layup 26 seconds into the game, Oakland didn’t hit another field goal until point guard Kahlil Felder — who finished with a team-high 20 points — hit a layup with 9:15 left in the half.

Arizona’s stifling defense held Oakland to a scoring drought of over 10 minutes, all the while building up a commanding 26-7 lead. As Arizona head coach Sean Miller put it, his team wanted to reverse the season-long trend of starting out slowly.

“You can see we have more of a confidence about us as a group,” Miller said. “We have more of a togetherness, more cohesion — and that happens with practices and games. We’re no longer starting out in a different way than we would’ve played the rest of the game. I feel like we’re starting out in a more aggressive fashion that represents truly who we are.”

Miller’s squad not only came out strong against Oakland, the Wildcats put their foot on the gas pedal and never removed it. By halftime, the Arizona lead was 20 points, and by the final whistle, the margin was 37 points.

Leading the Wildcats with a team-high 18 points was Stanley Johnson, who finished 7-14 from the field with five rebounds and three assists in just 23 minutes.

Joining the scoring party were four other Wildcats in double figures. Brandon Ashley and Gabe York each added 15 points, while Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 points, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 13 points.

It was the second straight game in which five Wildcats scored in double figures and just the fourth time the team had reached the 100-point plateau under Miller. However, he said the team could’ve had even more points.

“We got to the foul line,” Miller said. “If we converted more, we would’ve had more toward 110 points than 100.”

From Oakland’s perspective, it was the second-lowest scoring game and the worst single-game field goal percentage and 3-point percentage of the season. The normally potent Oakland offense was held 11.3 points below its season average of 75.3 points per game.

After the game, Oakland head coach Greg Kampe — who received two technical fouls and was ejected with 11:30 left in the game — said the Golden Grizzlies got off to the worst start he’s ever seen from the team.

“For Oakland basketball, the first 12 minutes of that game [were] probably as bad as I’ve ever seen us play,” Kampe said. “We didn’t handle the moment of playing the No. 3 team in the country.”

Golden Grizzlies’ forward Corey Petros came into the game averaging a team-high 16.3 points per game, but he was held to 12 points on 4-8 shooting from the field and fouled out with 5:23 left in the game.

The Wildcats worked early to keep Petros from getting good post position and made sure he had to work for all eight of his field goal attempts.

“You definitely don’t want a player as talented as [Petros] to get a whole lot of touches,” Ashley said. “We definitely didn’t want him to be in a position where he could change the game. We definitely wanted to take him out of the game as best we could.”

Up next for the Wildcats is a two-game road test against UTEP on Dec. 19 and UNLV on Dec. 23 that will close out nonconference play for Arizona.

“We’re going to be tested and we have to be ready,” Miller said.


Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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