The Arizona Wildcats had never before faced Tuesday night’s opponent, the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs.
But in the end, the Bulldogs were just another defeated opponent in Arizona’s effort to stay perfect this season.
The Wildcats were fresh off their second-ever EA Sports Maui Invitational championship after defeating No. 15 San Diego State in the title game.
And with No. 9 Gonzaga on the horizon, the Wildcats knew they’d have to ward off a letdown game against Gardner-Webb, who had lost their last eight games played against ranked opponents.
With all of that in mind, Arizona still could not avoid a sluggish start. The Bulldogs kept it close and even took the lead once, but an 11-0 run by the Wildcats to end the second half inflated their once-meager lead to 40-28.
Yet Gardner-Webb wouldn’t go away, making a final 10-3 surge in the beginning of the second half that was squashed by the Wildcats around the 11-minute mark.
From there, Arizona blew the game open to win 91-65 and remain undefeated.
What’d the victory look like by the numbers?
Arizona shot 56.3 percent from the field in the win and held Gardner-Webb to only 37.9 percent.
It was from behind the arc that the Wildcats really shone, hitting 10-of-17 triples for almost a third of their total points.
The ‘Cats did struggle from the free-throw line, however, making only 50 percent of their freebies, a full 20 percent lower than their season average thus far.
Arizona has now won 25 consecutive games at McKale Center and continues to lead the Pac-12 in home-court winning percentage.
Twin scorers showed up for the ‘Cats tonight, as both Stanley Johnson and Gabe York contributed 18 points apiece to the win.
York made 6-of-10 shots attempted and hit three triples while Johnson made 6-of-9 shots attempted, grabbed eight boards and also hit three 3-pointers — both York and Johnson accounted for six of Arizona’s 10 3-pointers.
Gardner-Webb has lost the three previous matchups with top-5 opponents by an average of 47.7 points. The 26-point loss to No.3 Arizona will lower that average thanks in part to a sluggish Wildcats opening.
Arizona’s eight steals against the Bulldogs helped them rack up 13 points off turnovers and ranks just one steal below their season average of nine per game.
Guard T.J. McConnell snuck the ball away once for his eighteenth steal of the season. McConnell currently leads the Pac-12 in steals.
With the 91-65 win, Arizona ups their streak of not allowing an opponent to reach the 80-point mark to 52.
The Wildcats are ranked 10th in the nation defensively and have not allowed an opponent to drop 80 points on them since March 2013.