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Freshmen lead Wildcats in Las Cruces

If you blinked, you would have missed the Wildcats turn a
two-point deficit into a 10-point lead in mere moments led
by freshmen Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner. The ‘Cats
went on to beat New Mexico State 83-76 in Las Cruces, New
Mexico.

Johnson had his best game yet with 19 points and 2
assists. He sparked the run that lead to an insurmountable
lead with a breakaway dunk that ended up as a three-point
play. On the next possession, Johnson soared above the rim
again in the half court set hammering down the dunk on a
baseline cut.

Through this point of the season Johnson is proving to be
the most consistent, and perhaps even the team’s best
player. His athleticism has allowed him to get up and down
the floor for a young and fast Wildcats team. Johnson has
a chance to be a very special player in Tucson.

Both plays made by Johnson were triggered by the
surprisingly solid play from enigmatic point guard Josiah
Turner. Turner made a key steal with 9:46 to go in the
second half and instinctively passed ahead to Johnson for
his first dunk. On the next possession, he lobbed the ball
up and Johnson did the rest. The next trip down the floor
Turner did it himself getting in the lane for a lay-up.
In a matter of :69 seconds, Turner and Johnson combined
for six points, a steal and an assist.

It was against an inferior opponent and this Arizona team
needs to learn to put these teams down much earlier in
games if they want to be taken seriously. The emergence of
Turner and Johnson will help with that going forward.
Clearly they both need another year in college to develop
their games and get better.

The last four minutes of the game were very telling as
Turner and Johnson once again took over, but not with the
same results. They combined for three fouls (Turner fouled
out) and two turnovers. It was a very sloppy finish that
did not have to be if the team executed more like a
veteran squad would have.

Those positives earlier in the second half were enough to
outweigh the erratic play that ended the game. Head coach
Sean Miller has a talented and deep basketball team that
is continuing to improve.

They clearly have a stud in Johnson and come Pac-12 play
he may be the best player on the west coast. With the
continued maturity of Turner, this duo may be just what we
thought they were.

Notes:

• Solomon Hill continues to quietly fill the stat
sheet as he led the team with 7 assists while contributing
12 points (5-8 FG) and 6 rebounds.

• Arizona held New Mexico State to 1-12 from behind
the three-point line in the second half.

• Jesse Perry recorded his fourth double-double of
the season.