Aaron Gordon collected a career-high 19 points while Brandon Ashley and T.J. McConnell reached season highs in the Arizona Wildcats' 79-58 win over Texas Tech tonight at McKale Center.
The Wildcats were far from perfect, with 11 first-half turnovers, but shook off any potential hangovers from their New York experience last week enough to win in relative comfort.
While Gordon had 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, Ashley set season highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds. He was also close to his career highs, having scored 20 points against Long Beach State last season and 11 rebounds against NAU.
McConnell added 10 assists to three turnovers but missed 4 of 5 three-pointers. His 10 assists were the most as a Wildcat, though he had 11 with Duquesne against District of Columbia during the 2011-12 season.
The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field and crushed the Red Raiders on the boards, 43-23, while holding Texas Tech to just 1-for-11 three-point shooting
Gordon reached his career high of 18 points when he broke free and drove inside for a dunk with 7:43 left, giving UA a 62-43 lead.
The Wildcats didn’t pull fully away until the final minutes, however, getting a three-pointer from Gabe York that gave them a 78-56 lead with 1:27 left. UA coach Sean Miller did not begin substituting until only 35 seconds remained.
Arizona started the second half on a 9-2 run thanks to the engineering of McConnell.
After Ashley grabbed a defensive rebound, over a span of five seconds, McConnell dished to Gordon for a dunk, then stole an inbounds pass, and set up Nick Johnson for a three-pointer.
UA led 44-27 with 17:16 left after Johnson’s shot and went on to take leads of up to 20 points over the first eight minutes of the second half.
The Wildcats took a 35-25 lead at halftime, suffering some sloppy ballhandling that kept the game competitive in the first half.
The Wildcats shot 54.5 percent from the field over the Red Raiders and outrebounded TTU 22-9. But the Wildcats committed 11 turnovers in the first half, allowing the Red Raiders to keep the game somewhat competitive.
Gordon led the Wildcats in the first half with 10 points and four rebounds while Ashley had nine points and five rebounds.
Coming off the emotional high of beating Duke in New York last Friday, the Wildcats were sharp out of the gate, taking an early 10-0 lead before the Red Raiders showed signs of life.
The Wildcats kept the Red Raiders scoreless for almost four minutes out of the gate, prompting Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith to call a timeout with 16:15 left in the first half. At that point, the Red Raiders were 0 for 5 from the field, had one turnover and were being outrebounded 6-1.
But the Red Raiders got out on the break after the timeout, Kader Tapsoba dunked intisde and Texas Tech gradually cut Arizona’s lead to just 13-8 with 13 minutes left in the half.
Arizona later pushed the lead to 13 points, when Ashley hit a three-pointer from the top of the key and later made a rebound basket to make it 23-10 with 7:50 left in the half.
Texas Tech then cut it to ggive points again twice before Arizona pulled away somewhat in the final minutes of the half.
Arizona, now 8-0, will next face UNLV on Saturday at McKale Center.