With the last football game of the regular season behind us (and hopefully out of our mind forever), the university and its fans now shift to full fledged basketball mode. And what a great shift it will be.
For those who haven’t been involved in the past few weeks, here is a quick run down. The Arizona Wildcats (3-0) are currently ranked number nine in the AP and Coaches poll, sporting a 3-0 record, and have an average winning margin of over 17 points. They are averaging 83 points per game, and shooting a solid 49% from the field. UA is also passing the ball very well, averaging nearly 19 assists per game, which places them 10th in the country. Their leading scorer is freshman Brandon Ashley 13.7 a game, with senior Solomon Hill just a pace behind at 13.0 a game. Ashley is also leading the team in rebounds with 7.7 a game. Hill, averaging 5.7, is also second in this category; notice a trend anyone? Nick Johnson makes an appearance leading the team in assists and has an oustanding 4.3/1.0 assist to turnover ratio. Hill also places second in this category, showing just how complete his game really is.
Overall, the Wildcats have four players in double digits scoring: Ashley (13.7), Hill (13.0), Mark Lyons (12.7), and Nick Johnson (10.3). The team, backed by those four players, is picking it up as of late. Their first game, against Charleston Southern, was a struggle and it showed trailing for most of the first half. After the opener, the Wildcats did not mess around in their second game against UTEP. They won by 21 and held the Miners to 36% shooting. In their last showing against Long Beach State, Arizona ran circles around them. The AP wrote in their summary of the game, “The 49ers never stood much of a chance against Arizona, unable to stop the Wildcats while falling into a deep early hole…” UA eventually won the game by 22, while shooting 54%. They were led by Ashley’s best game of his young career, going 6-6 from the field and totaling 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Up next for Arizona is on Wednesday when the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona (2-3) head down the I-17 and I-10 to Tucson. Then on Saturday, the Wildcats face their biggest test of the year when they fly to Lubbock, Texas to face off against the Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-0). They are currently third in the league in scoring with over 90 a game.
If one has not been paying attention thus far, it is time to do so. This is a special team with the talent and potential to go far in March. It is only going to get better.