It was likely the worst offensive performance of the year against the worst opponent of the year, and the Arizona Wildcats found seemingly their 10th new way to win their 10th game of the season.
Sean Miller's team defeated East Tennessee State 73-53 in Hawaii on Saturday to move to the second round of the Diamond Head Classic tournament. An ugly offensive performance saw freshman Brandon Ashley lead the team with 16 points as the only double-digit scorer, and he scored nine of those points very early in the first half.
Once again, it was an impressive zone defense that both kept Arizona out of the paint and did enough to force the Wildcats to shoot a poor 9-for-26 from the three-point line and 42.4 percent from the floor overall.
Arizona led 25-8 with 11 minutes to play, nine points of which were scored by Ashley. The final two of those points were capped by a 360 degree dunk by Nick Johnson, but the Wildcats wouldn't score again until Johnson hit two free throws with just more than six minutes left in the first half.
The Wildcats led 38-17 at the half, holding the Bucs to 22 percent field goal shooting. Like the game against Oral Roberts and its leading scorer, Warren Niles, Arizona hassled 18-point per game man Lester Wilson. In the first half, the freshman forward hit 1-of-7 shots, and he finished with just nine points.
Jarvis Jones led the Buccaneers with 21 points four assists and three steals, but he had six turnovers -- that was almost half of the Bucs miscues. They had 13 total turnovers and never let the game get too much out of hand thanks to ball control.
Offense was a problem for ETSU much moreso than Arizona. The Wildcats got after it defensively, holding the Buccaneers to 31 percent shooting, something that helped offset UA's 18 turnovers itself.
Mark Lyons found himself with four first-half assists and struggled to find his rhythm against the zone defense. He shot 3-of-10 from the floor and further compounded the bad parts of his night by picking up his fourth personal foul less than five minutes into the second half.
Overall, the Wildcats chipped in effectively enough despite the ETSU zone making the offense look like it was struggling at times. Nine players scored at least five points for Miller's team.
It was, as unimpressive as a 20-point win could be, yet another affirmation that the Wildcats are very good. But with a talented team -- potentially Miami -- on deck another similar performance might get the Wildcats sweating.
They can only hope they sweated all the struggles out Saturday night.
The other bracket
As expected, the No. 18 San Diego State Aztecs rolled to a victory, winning 80-58 against San Francisco. But instead of being led by wing Jamaal Franklin, it was guard Chase Tapley who scored a career high 33 points by 13-of-19 shots overall and 6-of-10 from three-point range.
Steve Fisher's team will face -- no, not Ole Miss -- Indiana State after it upset the Ole Miss Rebels 87-85. Five of the Sycamores scored in double figures, led by 27 points from forward Manny Arop, who offset the 27 points from Rebels guard Marshall Henderson.
Time: 9:30 p.m. MST