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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Notes: Johnson rebounds from L.A. struggles

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Gordon Bates

For Arizona’s first 14 games, Nick Johnson seemed untouchable. The seasoned freshman out of Findlay Prep was mature, poised and his ridiculous talent quickly translated to the college game.

But then the Wildcats went to Los Angeles. Johnson combined to shoot 3-for-15 with six points against UCLA and USC, marking his first collegiate slump.

While some freshman could easily get mired in that drought, lose confidence and slide down a slippery slope, Johnson responded.

The explosive guard helped Arizona fend off Oregon State on Thursday night to the tune of 19 points and four rebounds in 29 minutes of action. If Johnson hadn’t missed five of his 11 free throws, his night would have been even more monumental.

“He really put the last couple of games behind him and I thought really had a terrific game,” head coach Sean Miller said of Johnson. “He was on the brink of having 25, he really was. It was great to see him break out.”

Johnson’s biggest play came in overtime, with the Wildcats leading 75-73.

Fellow freshman Josiah Turner missed a layup, then Jesse Perry cleaned up the garbage but missed his layup as well. Oregon State seemed poised to grab the board and head down to the other end with a chance to tie things up.

But Johnson came out of nowhere and threw down a two-handed tip slam to give UA a four-point cushion and all-but seal the victory.

Turner continues solid play

Two games after regaining his starting point guard spot against UCLA, freshman point guard Josiah Turner again showed improvement.

His four-point, three-rebound, four-assist, two-steal, one-block statline won’t show it, but he was integral in Arizona’s victory, most notably on the defensive end.

After Ahmad Starks, who finished with 14 points, shot the Beavers out of a slump in regulation, Turner held him scoreless in the overtime.

“He did a really good job on defense,” Miller said. “ (Jordin) Mayes started to wear down. I thought his defensive mindset was a good one.”

Said Brendon Lavender of Turner’s defense: “Man that little dude (Starks) could play. I think Josiah played some really good defense at the end and got some really intense stops.”

Wildcats break out of 3-point slump

Against USC and UCLA, Arizona shot a combined 5-for-32 from 3-point range. With no interior presence, the Wildcats needed to regain its touch on the deep ball in order to stay in games and put points on the board.

Mission accomplished.

Arizona found its shooting stroke against the Beavers as the Wildcats knocked down 12 of their 22 triples with all six coming from Johnson, Kyle Fogg and Lavender.

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