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Arizona Wildcats

ESPN's Pasch: Nick Johnson should be in Player of the Year conversation

Arizona guard Nick Johnson, center, goes up to dunk as UCLA forward Kyle Anderson, left, and guard Jordan Adams defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Thursday night in Los Angeles, Dave Pasch did the play-by-play for ESPN and got a chance to see the Arizona Wildcats knock off the UCLA Bruins by a score of 79-75.

It was a close game for a while before the Wildcats pulled away, but then became close again when the Bruins rallied to take a late lead.

But as they've done all season, Sean Miller's squad made enough plays down the stretch to earn the win, keeping their perfect season alive.

A guest of Doug and Wolf Friday morning, Pasch said he came away impressed with Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson.

"His numbers aren't eye-popping but they're still pretty good," Pasch said, noting that Bill Walton, his broadcast partner Thursday, said Johnson is deserving of some Player of the Year talk due to being the best player on the country's best team.

"Boy, you just watch the game and he was the most impactful player [Thursday] night," Pasch said. "He got going...he's the type of player who is indispensable for Arizona, and Bill made that point last night."

Johnson scored a game-high 22 points against the Bruins on 9-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-7 from three. He added four rebounds, two assists and a steal.

On the season, Johnson leads the 16-0 (3-0) Wildcats in scoring with 16.4 points per game, and he's topped the 20-point mark six times this season, including three times in the last four games.

But part of what works against Johnson with regards to accolades is the Wildcats do not feature him as much as some stars are by other teams.

"I think it's hard when you've got, really, a team," Pasch said. "There's not one guy. It's not like Duke with Jabari Parker and I know Syracuse has more depth -- they're similar to Arizona in that respect -- but yeah, Nick Johnson, to me, should be in the conversation.

"He's a terrific player, he has been for a couple years."

About the Author


School: University of Arizona

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: Fall 2008, right before Cardinals Super Bowl run

Favorite sports memory: Being at Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with my dad

Favorite all-time athlete: Larry Centers

Favorite sports movies: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Jerry Maguire

Most crushing sports moment: Grew up in Arizona and went to UA from 2002-06. In short, there are too many to name just one.

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