Thursday, November 10, 2011

Arizona 67, Duquesne 59

[recap] [box score]

Tuning in during the middle of a basketball game is always a little bit disorienting to me. So much of the rest of the game is dictated by those early moments; we learn what pace the teams want to play at, what matchups they're looking to exploit, what defensive strategies they plan on using. A great deal of the scouting report shows up in those first few minutes.

Because Lehigh at St. John's ran late, I missed almost eight minutes of the beginning of this game, which is a lot to miss -- especially early in the season, with a team I was completely unfamiliar with. It didn't help that Duquesne's leading returning scorer, senior B.J. Monteiro, picked up two fouls in the first four minutes and a third immediately upon re-entering the game seven minutes later. I never really got a feel for the flow of this game, other than to (again) be impressed with Arizona's defense and less than unimpressed with both teams' offense.

Arizona won this one over a three-possession stretch late in the second half, and did so on the back of sophomore point guard Jordin Mayes. He sandwiched two three-pointers around a two-for-three trip to the free throw line to turn a 49-48 game into a comfortable Wildcat win. Give credit, too, to Angelo Chol and Solomon Hill, who alertly found Mayes open for those three pointers.

Mayes started over freshman Josiah Turner (who had started Arizona's season opener) because Turner was late to shootaround. Mayes was better than Turner on Monday against Valparaiso and he was better tonight, too. Turner still looks like he's trying too hard, and I doubt it would hurt him at all to hand the lead job to Mayes and give Turner the chance to ease into college basketball a bit more.

Arizona notes: Kyryl Natyazhko started, played six ineffective minutes in the first half, and didn't play in the second. He was ineffective against Valpo, too, and has been outplayed thus far by Chol. Sean Miller could afford to use freshman Nick Johnson in a small lineup against perimeter-oriented Duquesne, which he did to start the second half, but again, how are these guys going to match up with UCLA? ... This post over at The Mikan Drill breaks down a dribble-handoff set that Arizona used to get Mayes an open look twice against Valparaiso on Monday. They used it again effectively against the Dukes ... As good as Mayes was, he was also involved in two of the four consecutive turnovers that Arizona committed after taking a ten-point lead with around 2:30 to play ... Early in the second half, Kyle Fogg threw a lazy pass and then stood and watched while T.J. McConnell took it in for a layup that was blocked by Brendon Lavender. Monteiro didn't watch, however, beating Fogg down the court for the rebound and laying it in. Miller apparently didn't watch, either, as Fogg stayed in the game ... Arizona freshman Nick Johnson is the nephew of the late Dennis Johnson, the ultimate GIL, Dr. Slam's all-time favorite basketball player.

Duquesne notes: As mentioned above, Monteiro was in early foul trouble and sat most of the first half. When he came back on the court in the second, he took a bunch of bad shots. That could just be his regular M.O., but it seemed like he was over-anxious to make his mark on a game that was quickly passing him by. It being the season-opener might have had something to do with it, too ... T.J. McConnell is the best true point guard I've seen so far this season. Admittedly, that's not saying a lot, as I've only watched four games. But McConnell is a pass-first point with exception court vision. He hustles and leads both by example and with his words.

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