Somebody needs to press the Staples “Easy” button.
The Arizona Wildcats came into Viejas Arena in San Diego facing a competitive eighth-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs on Sunday evening, but the No. 1 seed dominated basically from the get-go, rolling to an 84-61 decision and into the Sweet 16.
Arizona built a lead as big as 21 in the first half, but Gonzaga closed it to 47-34 by the break. Sean Miller’s club picked up the pace in the second half and jumped up by as much as 28 with 2:27 to go.
The Wildcats are returning to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. They are slated to face San Diego State University in Anaheim, Calif., on Thursday, March 27 — roughly scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m.
Here’s a look at Sunday’s blowout win by the numbers:
The Bulldogs must have known not to challenge Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon on Arizona’s frontline; the two combined for 10 blocks in Friday’s second-round win over Weber State. Neither Tarczewski nor Gordon picked up a rejection in Sunday’s victory. As a team, Arizona finished with seven blocks. Nick Johnson had three and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson swatted a career-high four.
The Wildcats are going to the Sweet 16 for the third time in Miller’s five-year tenure. The farthest they have gotten under Miller was the Elite Eight, which happened in 2011, his second year in Tucson.
Four of Arizona’s starters reached double-figures in the game, and Hollis-Jefferson hit the mark off the bench. Only three Bulldogs in total scored in double-digits. Tarczewski, with six, was the only Wildcat to not reach the plateau.
Turnovers played a huge part in the gulf between the Wildcats and the Bulldogs. Arizona gave it away only six times Sunday. The team lost the ball two more times than Weber State did in Friday’s gave, but Arizona forced the Bulldogs into 21 turnovers Sunday, making for a differential of 15.
Arizona broke its record in the NCAA Tournament by blocking 12 shots Friday, and the team set another personal record in this matchup. Sunday, the Wildcats stole the ball 15 times, breaking their own tournament record of 14 set in 1998 against Nicholls State.
Not only did Hollis-Jefferson reach his career high in blocks, but the freshman also did so in points, tying the team high — with Gordon — in the game with 18. RHJ made 5-of-7 shots from the floor and added five assists and five rebounds in 27 minutes. Great game all around.
Perhaps former Wildcat Jordan Hill was inspired by his alma mater’s performance Sunday night — even though he was playing at roughly the same time just up the coast. The Los Angeles Lakers forward broke his NBA career high with 28 points against the Orlando Magic. He also added 13 rebounds, helping lead L.A. to a 103-94 win.
No strangers to shooting around 50 percent from the line in a game, the Wildcats finished Sunday’s matchup having made 13-of-18 attempts from the charity stripe, good for 72.2 percent. Hollis-Jefferson played a big part in their pseudo-efficiency; he made all eight of his attempts.
Arizona finished with more than 80 points for the seventh time this season, but it was the first time the team crossed that threshold in the last eight games. The Wildcats are a perfect 7-0 when they reach that mark this year.