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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Zeke Nnaji shows out in a big way for Arizona men’s basketball

Amy Bailey
Freshman Zeke Nnaji (22) jumps up and dunks the ball, giving Arizona another point. The Wildcats defeated the Lumberjacks 91-52.

In his first game in an Arizona uniform, Zeke Nnaji walked off to a standing ovation from the fans at the McKale Center as Arizona beat NAU 91-52 in the season opener.

While Nnaji didn’t play in the exhibition game due to an ankle injury, Head Coach Sean Miller knew how big of a piece he would be once he was back. Miller has mentioned many times how Nnaji might be the best player on the court for some games, and he certainly was tonight.

“[Nnaji is] a freshman but he doesn’t seem like he plays like that. I’ve been going at him for three or four months now,” said Stone Gettings. “If you were to ask me, this isn’t too surprising to say the least.”

While it was only NAU, the Lumberjacks came into the game with something the Wildcats didn’t have: chemistry. But that didn’t matter; Arizona came running out of the gate, quickly went up big and never looked back.

The other leading scorers from tonight were Stone Gettings off the bench and Dylan Smith. Gettings and Smith combined to go for 5-for-7 from three and had 21 points between the two of them. While Devonaire Doutrive continues to serve his indefinite suspension, Smith will look to be the fifth starter. Gettings, on the other hand, will continue to be another bench presence that the Wildcats have on their deep bench.

“You could see [Gettings] give us another dimension,” Miller said. “What you like about Stone is he’s different than the rest of our big guys. He’s highly skilled and our team did a good job of finding him in transition. A lot of his three point shots came off of our transition game.”

Since Arizona was up by a lot throughout the game, Miller was able to use many different lineups. And while NAU will be one of the easier teams that Arizona faces all year, they couldn’t stop any of the lineups Miller put out there. Whether it was Jemarl Baker or Nico Mannion running the point or Josh Green and Stone Gettings on the court Arizona, was unstoppable all night.

“Having the luxury of Stone [Gettings], Zeke [Nnaji] and then most of the guys returning older, a year better and more prepared having gone through film experience … we have the luxury of having depth inside,” Miller said. “We just have to keep developing them and those guys have to keep working.”

Arizona will be back at the McKale Center Sunday, Nov. 10 to take on Illinois for the first time since 2007. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be available on the Pac-12 Networks.

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