Nick Johnson, T.J. McConnell belong among Arizona Wildcats’ storied backcourts


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WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

ARIZONA 60, STANFORD 57
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS

Player Pos PP MIN PR
*Nick Johnson SG 24 33 .727
*T.J. McConnell PG 23 35 .657
Gabe York SG 9 16 .563
*Brandon Ashley PF 10 32 .313
*Kaleb Tarczewski C 7 26 .269
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 5 23 .217
*Aaron Gordon SF 4 34 .118
LESS THAN 10 MIN
Jordin Mayes PG -2 1 -.200
TOTAL TEAM 80 200 .400


ArizonaLogo logo.Stanford2

Bill Walton offered many hyperboles last night during the Arizona-Stanford game, including the line about the Wildcats being an “outstanding free-throw shooting team” in the waning seconds.

He didn’t say: “This is the best performance by an Arizona backcourt in the history of that magnificent program.”

That is believable.

We may never see again what Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell did in Arizona’s 60-57 win last night at Maples Pavilion in terms of taking care of the ball:

Sixty-eight minutes combined in a tightly-contested game on the road, and Johnson and McConnell did not commit one turnover. They had four assists each.

ARIZONA’S LONGEST WINNING STREAK

Games Season(s) Coach
21 2013-2014 Sean Miller
19 1992-1993 Lute Olson
19 1997-1998 Lute Olson
17 1928-1929 Fred Enke Sr.
16 1987-1988 Lute Olson

Johnson and McConnell also had more rebounds (13) than power forward Brandon Ashley and center Kaleb Tarczewski (seven).

The guard tandem, which must rank as the best in the country, made half of Arizona’s field goals (nine of 18) and four of the Wildcats’ six three-pointers, including the most important shot made beyond the arc by Johnson with 49 seconds left that put Arizona ahead 58-55.

TOP FIVE ARIZONA REBOUNDING TEAMS

Margin Team Avg Opp Games
19.3 1950-51 59.5 40.2 30
9.7 1976-77 46.7 37.0 27
9.6 2013-14 38.9 29.3 21
8.3 1975-76 47.2 38.9 33
8.1 1998-99 41.7 33.6 29

Johnson and McConnell finished with nearly half of Arizona’s points — a combined 27 — on an evening when the Wildcats’ strength, their frontcourt, had one of their most forgettable games of the season. Ashley, Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon made only five field goals in 23 attempts. That should equate to a loss.

Once again, Arizona showed that it can be resourceful in the face adversity. Somebody always picks up the slack and the Wildcats’ defense is the great equalizer, a reason why they are now 12-0 since their No. 1 ranking Dec. 9. Pressure to the Wildcats means they will find a way to press back.

Arizona is in unchartered waters with a school-record 21-0 start but that does not matter. With each game, we learn something new about the Wildcats’ resolve.

Sean Miller, as the captain of this ship, knows Johnson is the rudder. Johnson has entered the realm of Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Reggie Geary, Miles Simon, Jason Terry and Jason Gardner as one of the more impeccable leaders of the Wildcats’ program.

“I kept on looking over at (Miller) and he gave me the freedom to call my play a few times in a row,” Johnson told reporters about his performance late in the game. “I just tried to make plays for my team. It was really not our offense that was struggling, but our defense at first. But down the stretch we really capitalized on defense.”

PAC-12 STANDINGS

CONF OVRL
W-L GB PCT W-L PCT STRK
#1 Arizona 8-0 1.000 21-0 1.000 W21
UCLA 5-2 2.5 .714 16-4 .800 W2
ASU 5-3 3 .625 16-5 .762 W3
California 5-3 3 .625 14-7 .667 L3
Washington 5-3 3 .625 13-8 .619 W2
Colorado 4-4 4 .500 15-6 .714 L2
Stanford 4-4 4 .500 13-7 .650 L1
OSU 3-4 4.5 .429 11-8 .579 L1
Utah 3-5 5 .429 14-6 .700 L2
Oregon 2-5 5.5 .286 14-5 .737 W1
USC 1-6 6.5 .167 10-10 .500 L1
Wazzu 1-7 7 .143 8-12 .400 L4

Stanford, which made only two field goals in the last 10 minutes, became the 13th Arizona opponent to score less than 60 points this season.

Arizona’s greatest team, the 1987-88 group that went 35-3 with Elliott and Kerr, held opponents to below 60 in 15 games. The Wildcats still have 10 regular-season games and the postseason on the schedule.

“They are one of the best defensive teams in our conference and in the nation,” said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, who has lost eight consecutive games to Miller and the Wildcats. “In a game like this, you just have to make tough shots. They were challenging everything which they normally do. Those guys are very active and long.”

Sean Miller, as the captain of this ship, knows Johnson is the rudder. Johnson has entered the realm of Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Reggie Geary, Miles Simon, Jason Terry and Jason Gardner as one of the more impeccable leaders of the Wildcats’ program.

The defense starts from the perimeter, where Johnson, McConnell, Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, took Stanford out of its rhythm. Their pressure on the ball and passing lanes made the Cardinal look disjointed in the final minutes. Nobody took a shot without a hand in their face.

“We can’t let the defense push us out because then we are running our offense too far back,” Stanford forward Josh Huestis said.

With the way Johnson and McConnell took care of the ball, scored, defended, rebounded, distributed the ball and led with clutch performances, they proved they belong among the elite in Arizona’s storied history of backcourts.

They are in step with Kerr and Craig McMillan, Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves, Simon and Mike Bibby, Gardner and Gilbert Arenas — backcourts that led Arizona to the Final Four.

ARIZONA BEST STARTS

Record Team Finish Coach
21-0 2013-14 ??? Sean Miller
16-0 1931-32 18-2 Fred Enke Sr.
14-0 2012-13 27-8 Sean Miller
12-0 1987-88 35-3 Lute Olson
9-0 1914-15 9-0 Pop McKale
9-0 1921-22 10-2 James Pierce

ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Nick Johnson SG 21 21 492 658 .748
Brandon Ashley PF 21 21 373 607 .614
Aaron Gordon SF 21 21 392 643 .610
Kaleb Tarczewski C 19 18 305 504 .605
R. Hollis-Jefferson SF 21 2 282 485 .581
T.J. McConnell PG 21 21 316 649 .487
Gabe York SG 21 1 183 389 .470
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Elliott Pitts SG 7 0 11 38 .289
Jordin Mayes PG 19 0 9 98 .092
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Matt Korcheck PF 9 0 26 44 .591
Jacob Hazzard PG 8 0 11 21 .524
Chris Johnson PF 1 0 1 2 .500
Trey Mason SG 7 0 7 18 .389
Erik Conklin F 7 0 6 17 .353
Drew Mellon F 5 0 2 11 .182
Zach Peters C 5 0 -3 17 -.176
TOTAL TEAM 2413 4200 .575

ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:

Name (Year) G S PP MIN PR
Derrick Williams (2011) 38 38 1190 1141 1.043
Sean Elliott (1989) 33 33 1128 1125 1.003
Chris Mills (1993) 28 28 838 870 .963
Sean Elliott (1988) 38 38 1167 1249 .934
D. Stoudamire (1995) 30 30 964 1092 .883
Mike Bibby (1998) 35 35 905 1124 .805
Jason Terry (1999) 29 29 877 1107 .792

ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM

Season Rec. Pct.
1987-88
December 21-January 3 3-1 .750
January 11-February 7 6-1 .857
1988-89
February 6-February 12 1-1 .500
February 27-March 13 5-0 1.000
1997-98
November 20-November 30 4-1 .800
2000-01
November 20-November 26 3-1 .750
2002-03
November 23-December 22 5-1 .833
January 20-February 2 3-1 .750
February 10-March 16 7-1 .875
2013-14
December 9-January 26 12-0 1.000
TOTAL 49-8 .860

ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS

Date Opponent Results TeamPR Productivity Leader Pos PP MIN PR
Jan. 29 @Stanford 60-57 (W) .400 Nick Johnson SG 24 33 .727
Jan. 26 Utah 65-56 (W) .435 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 16 24 .667
Jan. 23 Colorado 69-57 (W) .525 Brandon Ashley PF 24 31 .774
Jan. 16 ASU 91-68 (W) .675 Nick Johnson SG 23 27 .852
Jan. 12 @USC 73-53 (W) .520 Brandon Ashley PF 28 31 .903
Jan. 9 @UCLA 79-75 (W) .570 Gabe York SG 16 18 .889
Jan. 4 Washington 71-62 (W) .580 Nick Johnson SG 34 36 .944
Jan. 2 Washington St. 60-25 (W) .510 Kaleb Tarczewski C 20 22 .909
Dec. 23 NAU 77-44 (W) .660 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 30 27 1.111
Dec. 19 Southern 69-43 (W) .535 Aaron Gordon SF 28 29 .966
Dec. 14 @Michigan 72-70 (W) .530 Kaleb Tarczewski C 23 26 .885
Dec. 11 N.M. State 74-48 (W) .555 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 22 23 .957
Dec. 7 UNLV 63-58 (W) .450 T.J. McConnell PG 29 35 .829
Dec. 3 Texas Tech 79-58 (W) .570 Brandon Ashley PF 32 28 1.143
Nov. 29 Duke 72-66 (W) .590 Kaleb Tarczewski C 21 28 .750
Nov. 27 Drexel 66-62 (W) .505 Nick Johnson SG 31 36 .861
Nov. 19 Rhode Island 87-59 (W) .685 Nick Johnson SG 39 26 1.500
Nov. 18 Fairleigh Dickinson 100-50 (W) .890 Nick Johnson SG 30 20 1.500
Nov. 14 @San Diego State 69-60 (W) .490 Nick Johnson SG 29 31 .935
Nov. 11 Long Beach State 91-57 (W) .790 Brandon Ashley PF 28 21 1.333
Nov. 8 Cal Poly 73-62 (W) .565 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 20 21 .952

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.



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