Defense leads to offense, Arizona Wildcats rout Mount St. Mary’s: By the Numbers

Nov 15, 2014, 3:11 AM | Updated: 5:58 am

The No. 2 Arizona Wildcats began their 2014-15 season the same way they played throughout 2013-14, using suffocating defense to frustrate opponents and lead to baskets on the other end of the floor.

The Wildcats used 57.4 percent field-goal shooting and limited the Mountaineers to 38.5 percent from the floor to spearhead a 78-55 rout over Mount St. Mary’s in their season opener Friday at McKale Center in Tucson.

After missing the final two months of the 2013-14 season with a foot injury, junior forward Brandon Ashley was brilliant in his return, scoring 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Ashley, who also happens to wear No. 21, added six rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes.

Sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 15 points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks off the bench for the Wildcats, who will be back in McKale to take on Cal-State Northridge at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Here’s how UA opened up its season with a home victory, by the numbers:

3

Arizona looked sluggish on the offensive end until the end of the first half, when they recorded three steals that all led to uncontested dunks — one by Ashley and two by Hollis-Jefferson — to give UA a 40-25 lead at halftime.

7

Arizona senior point guard T.J. McConnell’s seven assists were one shy of the Mountaineers’ team total of eight.

8

McConnell’s backup at the PG spot, freshman Parker Jackson-Cartwright, made a positive impact in his collegiate debut, scoring eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. He also had a pair of assists and didn’t turn the ball over.

10

Led by junior center Kaleb Tarczewski’s 10 rebounds, the Wildcats out-rebounded the Mountaineers 35-28. Tarczewski earned a double-double by adding 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

11

Arizona forced 15 Mount St. Mary’s turnovers thanks largely to 11 steals, four of which were made by McConnell.

12

Mount St. Mary’s hung close for much of the game, and a 3-pointer by Will Miller cut UA’s lead to 51-44 with 11 minutes to play. The Wildcats responded with a 12-0 run that was begun by a pair of McConnell jumpers to put the game away.

13

Free-throw shooting was a problem for the Wildcats for most of last season, and that issue has already bled into their 2014-15 campaign. UA missed 13 of its 25 attempts from the line Friday, including eight of its first 12.

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Defense leads to offense, Arizona Wildcats rout Mount St. Mary’s: By the Numbers