Arizona’s first road game of the season turned into a clinic as the Wildcats smashed Texas Tech 85-57 on national television. Arizona stifled the country's top scoring team on defense and shredded them on offense in their most complete effort of the young season.
Although Arizona had more turnovers than assists – something head coach Sean Miller will undoubtedly bring to his players' attention – Saturday night was perhaps the most impressive all around performance through the first five games.
After Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, and Nick Johnson got things going with baskets from behind the arc, all three freshman big men were able to adequately prove their worth.
Out of the Kaleb Tarczewski-Brandon Ashley-Grant Jerrett trio, “Zeus” was the only one to not reach double digits but his 13 rebounds were significant and he continues to progress as a force in the paint.
Tarczewski pulled down rebound after rebound and certainly proved why he's nick-named after a Greek God. His long arms also allowed him to simply reach out and grab boards over the heads of much shorter Red Raiders, and he will only continue to eat up the boards as his comfort level rises.
The center has played aggressively at times and passively at others. If he can continue to play with the consistency he did against Texas Tech, there might not be a more valuable freshman in the country.
Meanwhile, Ashley and Jerrett scored 11 and 12 points respectively. The two combined to make eight free throws, more than Texas Tech had as a team. Jerrett did damage inside and out, while Ashley showed us usual nose for the ball and natural scoring ability.
The aforementioned shooters of the team continued their consistent scoring displays. Johnson led the Cats with 21 points, four of which came off self-induced steals. Seniors Lyons and Hill knocked down five of Arizona’s eight three pointers.
Defensively, Arizona looked just as dominant. The Red Raiders were the highest scoring team in the nation heading into the matchup and Arizona stymied them despite keeping the pace up.
Against Arizona, a team with seemingly endless size and depth, Texas Tech was held to 35% shooting percentage and connected on just 6 of 21 attempts from deep.
The Red Raiders were able to make a run in the second half but it was short lived. When starters Jordan Tolbert and Trency Jackson picked up decisive fourth fouls, Arizona’s depth overwhelmed young Texas Tech.
From here, the Cats have a couple days off before playing 6-1 Southern Mississippi back in Tucson.