Known more for setting up his teammates than looking for his own shot, T.J. McConnell decided to take matters into his own hands Thursday.
With No. 7 Arizona holding just a five-point lead over Oregon at halftime, the Wildcats senior point guard kicked his offense into another gear in the second half, pouring in 12 of his game-high 21 points.
Forward Brandon Ashley made a pair of free throws with a little over five minutes left in the game to give Arizona an 11-point lead, and the Wildcats held onto a double-digit advantage from that point forward.
Arizona pulled off a road victory 80-62, its second win in a row since being upset by UNLV. The Wildcats improved to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in conference.
The Ducks are no pushovers, as they came into the contest with an 11-3 record, but the home loss dropped them to fifth place in the Pac-12, as they now have a 1-1 in-conference record.
Here’s a look at the Wildcats’ runaway victory, by the numbers:
All five UA starters scored in double-figures, led by McConnell’s 21. Stanley Johnson was next with 14 points, followed by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s 13, Kaleb Tarczewski’s 11 and Ashley’s 10. The Ducks, meanwhile, only had two players score in double-figures, led by Joseph Young’s 12.
Both teams were anemic from the three-point line, combining to make just six out of 31 tries. Oregon made 4-of-20 (20 percent) from behind the long line, while Arizona was even worse: 2-of-11 (18.2 percent). UA, however, was noticeably better in overall shooting, as the team made 48.2 percent of its field goals to Oregon’s 35.7 percent.
McConnell’s 21 points were his most in a regular season game since he transferred to Arizona. The floor general also contributed five rebounds, three assists and one steal in the win. Additionally, he was responsible for one of the Wildcats’ two successful three-pointers Thursday.
McConnell’s big game was highlighted by his 9-for-14 performance from the field. The 6-foot-1 senior has made 24 of his last 41 attempts over the last five games, good for a shooting percentage of 58.5 — not too shabby for a point guard.
Arizona pounded Oregon on the boards, winning the category by a 40-27 margin. Tarczewski pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, while Hollis-Jefferson had nine and Johnson gobbled up seven.
The Wildcats have shown a nice turnaround in free throw shooting ever since they began conference play. They made 24-of-30 from the charity stripe Thursday, and counting Sunday’s win over Arizona State, they have converted on 40 of their last 49 attempts (81.6 percent). Compare that stat to the 64.9 percent the Wildcats were shooting from the foul line during non-conference play.