In his first full game as an Arizona Wildcat, junior point guard T.J. McConnell wasted no time making an impact.
McConnell sparked the Wildcats all over the floor while Arizona beat Division II Augustana (S.D.) College 84-52 in an exhibition game tonight at McKale Center.
A junior transfer from Duquesne who sat out the required redshirt year last season, McConnell filled the box score with 12 points, eight assists, no turnovers and three steals over just 23 minutes played.
UA had four scorers in double figures overall: Nick Johnson and Gabe York each had 14 points, while McConnell and Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 each and Rondae Hollis—Jefferson hit 10 with a late dunk.
The Wildcats took a 46-32 lead at halftime and generally built the lead further in the second half while experimenting with rotations.
Arizona coach Sean Miller went with his much-expected starting lineup, with McConnell at point guard, Johnson at shooting guard, Aaron Gordon at small forward, Brandon Ashley at power forward and Tarczewski at center.
His rotation began with Hollis-Jefferson and York entering at the first media timeout, with Jordin Mayes replacing McConnell shortly after. Forward Matt Korcheck followed after the second media timeout, and Elliott Pitts appeared later in the half.
Kansas transfer Zach Peters, who is still not fully cleared medically because of prior concussions, did not play.
In the first half, McConnell had 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals while Johnson had 10 points and two assists.
McConnell engineered key plays throughout the first half, with assists and steals equally. He hit Johnson early in the half, resulting in Johnson picking up a foul and hitting two free throws to tie the game at 7 early, then later hit a three-pointer.
With 11 minutes left in the half, McConnell stole an inbound Augustana pass and fed it to Gordon for an easy score and then later stole the ball and assisted Johnson on a breakaway dunk that made it 28-16.
After 10 minutes of playing time, McConnell already had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting while collecting two rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Arizona struggled early, with Augustana taking an early 12-11 lead at first media timeout (14:32). At that point, Arizona was 3-for-10 from the field and was outrebounded 8-6.
The Vikings received seven straight points from forward Daniel Jansen to start the game, taking a quick 7-2 lead before UA later tied it at 7-7 on a pair of free throws by Johnson.
Arizona will play a closed scrimmage on Saturday at St. Mary's before returning home and opening the regular season on Nov. 8 against Cal Poly.