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The Daily Wildcat

 

Long night for Long Beach leads to Arizona Wildcats win

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Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat

McKale Center was electric Monday night as No. 5 Arizona flexed its defensive muscles and took flight in its 91-57 victory over Long Beach State.

The 49ers tried their best to hang on but the Wildcats’ athleticism was too much for LBSU as it found itself in a deep hole early.

“The story here early on is Gabe York,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller.

York set the tone for Arizona (2-0) as he nailed four consecutive transition three pointers and continued to keep Arizona fans on their feet.

York, Arizona’s rising star, finished Monday’s game with 14 points and was 4-7 from the three-point zone.

The sophomore had 12 points in the Wildcats’ season opener on Friday.

But York wasn’t limited to just making baskets. Miller said he was pleased with York’s passing and defensive presence, something that he lacked last season.

“He’s worked extremely hard this offseason,” Miller said. “It’s very noticeable. It’s not just in the way he’s been able to shoot the ball, which he’s always been able to do. But for him to have six assists, two steals and no turnovers is remarkable.”

“He’s a pivotal part of us moving forward,” Miller added.

The UA’s pressure defense forced 11 LBSU turnovers, which the Arizona offense translated into 17 points.

“Defensive rebounds are the key to the fast push,” said Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski. “We go into every game with the mentality that we should get every board.”

The Wildcats’ defense was too much for the 49ers, who finished the first half of Monday’s game a dismal 14 percent from the field. The shooting didn’t get much better for the Big West squad, finishing the game 17-63 from the field (27 percent).

If there was one aspect of Monday’s game Long Beach State could hang its hat on, it is the number of rebounds and opportunities it had. The 49ers grabbed 20 rebounds in the first half, 11 of which were on the offense. They finished the game with 15 offensive rebounds, four more than Arizona.

Miller didn’t appear too concerned about the rebounding following the game because of how the team finished. But he said they were still going to continue to work on it.

When the Wildcats did grab a defensive rebound, they kept pushing the tempo and turned the rebounds into quick three pointers and the occasional thundering ally-oop.

“We’re best when we’re in the open court,” Miller said. “And the way we get in the open court is by being a great defensive team.”

Arizona brought McKale to a roar when Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon brought down the roof with high-flying dunks and ally-oops.

“We want to be a top 10 defense,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of people that can finish on the break.”

Postgame locker room notes

Matt Korcheck and Zach Peters are two Wildcats who made their Arizona debut Monday night and are expected to contribute throughout the season.

Korcheck, a Tucson native and Sabino High School alum, entered the game late in the first half and finished with two points and two rebounds in seven minutes of game action.

Kansas transfer Peters also played seven minutes but was 0-2 on the night.

Gordon finished Monday’s game with 14 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double in the two games this season.

Sophomore forward Brandon Ashley was named Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic Most Valuable Player after scoring 16 points.

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

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