Remember earlier in the week when we talked about how Arizona needed to get off to a good start and minimize their mistakes in order to beat Texas Southern in order to get on a roll in tourney play?
Maybe they heard me, maybe they are Campus Sports readers. Or maybe Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s shimmies bring good luck.
Whatever the reason, the Wildcats picked up right where they left off after snagging the Pac-12 championship: They got off to a big start and never slowed down in their 93-72 rout of the Tigers.
It was the perfect way to kick off March Madness play. Arizona should consider bottling that performance up and sipping on it for the rest of the tournament, because it was a formula for victory.
Sure, there were plenty of close games and upsets to kick off Round 2 on Thursday. The Wildcats, on the other hand, never let their contest get “interesting,” partially in thanks to Hollis-Jefferson’s 23 points and 10 rebounds on the day. Pac-12 freshman of the year Stanley Johnson was expectedly solid, tallying 22 points on the the day, including four three-pointers.
Arizona also outscored Texas Southern 48-30 in the paint, the most paint points they have scored in a game this season.
But it wasn’t just the offense that kept UA rolling–although maintaining a 20-plus points lead through the second half didn’t hurt. The Wildcats kept their game simple and didn’t get overwhelmed by turnovers, something that has doomed them in previous tilts. It’s a pattern they need to continue when they face Ohio State, as OSU is more defensively sound than the Texas Southern team that they saw in Round 2.
If Arizona plays this way the rest of the tournament, they could be shattering brackets left and right. A few extra shimmies probably wouldn’t hurt either.
*Section Photo credit to Ethan Miller, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Casey Sapio, USA Today Sports