Seen & Heard at McKale Center
Get oopsed to it
It took less than two minutes on Monday night, but the Wildcats finally gave the fans what they so desperately wanted.
After T.J. McConnell stole the ball after a Long Beach St. player grabbed a McConnell missed shot, Aaron Gordon pointed to the sky, and McConnell rewarded him.
Gordon flashed to the rim, took off and McConnell found him for a beautiful flush, Arizona’s first converted alley-oop of the season.
The Wildcats added their second of the season less than 10 game minutes later, as Gabe York found a soaring Nick Johnson with the dunk to make the score 19-9. The York-to-Johnson connection would strike again late in the first half, putting the high-flying Wildcats up 42-15 with 1:21 left.
Gordon tried to make it happen in the team’s first game of the year, a 73-62 win over Cal Poly, but his errant pass to Johnson was squandered and the Wildcats did not try again.
Center Kaleb Tarczewski made his triumphant return to the Arizona starting lineup and made the most of it early on Monday night against Long Beach State.
After UA won the tip, he scored the game’s first bucket and added a rebound on the Wildcats’ first defensive possession, before scoring again a short time later. He ended the first half with four points and six rebounds.
Tarczewski, who started all 35 games last season as a freshman, began the 2013-14 regular season on the bench, suffering from a sore hip that put guard York into the first five in the win over Cal Poly. Tarczewski went on to have 11 points, but zero rebounds, in 19 minutes of play.
“It ended up working out because Cal Poly tried to spread us out and going smaller was certainly the answer,” Arizona coach Sean Miller told reporters afterward, about the decision to start York.
The UA defense put the clamps all over Long Beach State in the first half, holding the 49ers to 14 percent shooting. Long Beach State hit just 5 of 35 field goals to open the game, including just 1 of 14 from three-point range. Starters Mike Caffey, David Samuels, Dan Jennings and McKay LaSalle combined to make just 3 of 22 shots in the first half.
VETERAN’S DAY HONORS
On Veteran’s Day, the Wildcats celebrated two Air Force personnel who recently returned from combat deployment.
With Wilbur Wildcat dressed in camo pants, Arizona honored Technical Sergeant Rachel Lemoine, who served 42 combat missions in Afghanistan, and 1st Lieutenant Brett Neilson, who flew more than 80 combat sortied in Afghanistan, in an on-court ceremony.
After, they asked current service members and veterans to stand and receive applause.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
Arizona had a major defensive streak in the team’s opening win over Cal Poly, a 5-minute 17-second stretch in which the Wildcats held the Mustangs to zero points, with McConnell leading the way. The minute he exited, Cal Poly reeled off a 6-0 streak.
Arizona was nearly as stingy early on Monday. Long Beach State managed just four points in the first 7:15 before Christian Griggs-Williams hit a free throw to cut Arizona’s lead to 14-5. The Cats held the 49ers to 2-for-19 shooting to start the game, including 0 for 8 from three-point range.
BIG NUMBER II
York and Gordon combined for 23 first-half points against Long Beach State, outscoring the 49ers by themselves, 23-18.