The Arizona Wildcats' 85-73 victory against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Tuesday wasn't surprising considering the history of Sean Miller's teams, nor was it shocking considering the Wildcats' recent record in front of a McKale Center crowd.
But it was, however, a sign of things to come from the standpoint of how far this 2011-12 Wildcat squad can go. After Saturday's disappointing performance from the team's most talented player, Solomon Hill, the rebound against Oakland shed light on why Hill is Arizona's best player and exactly what should be expected of him.
He finished with a career high 23 points and added 11 boards and three assists for UA, which as a team had one of the most selfless games of the year. Arizona did have 16 turnovers, but with 18 assists to go with it, it was clear that it was the best offense of the season for the Wildcats.Sure, Arizona gave up 31 points to hot-shot guard Reggie Hamilton, but it negated his efforts by forcing seven turnovers on the 5-foot-11 senior.
Meanwhile, Arizona couldn't be stopped in a high-scoring affair. Hill began the game with five of the first seven points, and Arizona went on a 22-7 run from the 12:28 mark of the first half through the next nine minutes to go ahead 35-21. But with a push by Hamilton, the Golden Grizzlies brought the score to 40-36 going into the halftime break.
Kyle Fogg, who scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and had three assists, helped Hill to get out of the gates early in the second half. The Wildcats started on a 22-10 run to hold off any momentum by the Golden Grizzlies and the rest was history.
What'd we like?
- Hill's bounce-back from a poorly played game this weekend is a promising sight to see. Not only did he come back with a vengeance, but he came back without trying too hard. The forward shot 8-for-10 from the field, got to the free throw line seven times, and only took two 3-point shots. And in 34 minutes played, he only committed one foul.
- The assist numbers just show that Arizona played its most efficient game of the year. The Wildcats shot 55.6 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, they held Oakland, like they do most teams of late, to poor shooting. Oakland shot 41.9 percent overall and was forced into a 28.1 percent shooting from the 3-point arc. That looks much worse when you consider Oakland shot 32 long-balls overall.
- As I'd expressed prior, the Wildcats need to develop their point guards. While they've been scoring of late -- Jordin Mayes and Josiah Turner combined for 14 points on Tuesday -- the points also were playmakers against Oakland, tallying five assists on the night.
- The Wildcats attacked the interior, rendering their weakness as an advantage. Without much size to start, the Wildcats got Golden Grizzly big man Corey Petros in foul trouble. He scored no points, had four rebounds and fouled out in 27 minutes. And the 24 trips to the foul line was a much-needed improvement over the nine foul shots Arizona took against Gonzaga on Saturday. Oh, and might I mention they won the rebounding battle by eight.
- Though he's playing the two-guard spot, Nick Johnson showed why he's so valuable to the Wildcats. He scored just seven points, but his six assists and two steals in 30 minutes of play goes to show that Sean Miller can rely upon him for the rest of the season, no matter how his shot is falling. The good news? He doesn't need to score to make a difference. Whether his impact comes from his aggressive defense or passing on a giving night, well, simply depends on the night
- The only negative? To no fault of his own, you wonder where the health of Kevin Parrom is considering how well he's shown against teams like Florida. He was relatively quiet on Tuesday, as he's been the last couple of games. Perhaps it's a matter of having good and bad days following the recovery after being shot, but a healthy Parrom definitely is something that could push this team along. When that comes about remains to be seen.