Remember when we played CSU and won by only 9? That seems like ancient history... but it was only 2.5 weeks ago. How time flies...
Our performance in one word: Scintillating
54 - 24 Second half. 22 assists. 57% FG (from 3 pt and overall). 11 players scoring... and guess who scored the least? That'll be our leading scorer, Brandon Ashley. And still we win by 43!
Despite those mind-blowing stats, perhaps the most impressive feature tonight was our defense. To hold a team to 50 points on 55 shots is absolutely amazing. Only 50 points! Especially considering the damage we were doing on the offensive end, which usually leads to sloppy defense. The depth of this team was evident during the last 5 minutes when, despite our commanding lead, our 'reserves' (which includes guys like Parrom, York, Mayes, and Chol) still forced tough shots and turnovers. In the first half, we were in a lull offensively, but it was our defense that allotted us a 13 point halftime lead. The discipline Miller has been instilling in this team was on full display tonight and it was great to see!
There's not much to nitpick tonight. Yes, maybe we should keep in perspective that NAU is probably a doormat team. But, come on... we killed them... "Like a top ten team should" ... hell, even better than that. The second half was the best half I've seen Arizona play since we clobbered Duke in the Sweet Sixteen... a place where we'll likely be headed in about 3-4 months.
There were a couple head-scratching moments. The end of the first half in particular was not memorable. Perhaps Lyons had too much lotion on his hands?? Unforced turnovers are never easy to see, but they happen. It'd just be nicer to see them not happen in 'clutch' moments.
We again showed a little bit of struggle against the zone early on... but when shots outside started falling, the flood gates opened. Still, there's plenty to improve on in entry passes and finishing near the hoop. This is of course a good thing... a 43 point win from an unfinished product. Hell yes!
A tip of the hat goes to Nick Johnson who, despite his critics every game, did manage an almost perfect game. 10 points, 7 assists, 4 steals, and 3 rebounds.... and he always seemed to be doing something positive. That's great to see, and hopefully we see more of that control and consistency.
Brandon Ashley continues to be amazing. Yes only 2 points... but how about the 3 blocks and 11 rebounds?? This kid just balls and we should all enjoy him as much as we can.
Angelo Chol also deserves some name recognition. With some extended minutes, he showed us that he's becoming more of a polished player every day. Tonight he had some great finishes near the rim and played hard throughout.
Also, credit our senior leaders in Solo and Lyons for providing some great outside shooting and offense when needed.
We will probably have a few more of these types of games so its nothing to linger over too well. But damn! Its fun. This team definitely is a must see... which brings me to this point: If you're at the game, stay the whole damn game! Empty seats the last five minutes is just awful to see. I kinda understood why it happened with football... but basketball?? Come on guys! This is the heart and pride of T-Town.
Lastly for any of you who didn't pick Arizona to win by more than 48 combined points against NAU and Texas Tech on pick 'em... haha.