Arizona Wildcats Get Tested, Escape El Paso Victorious


No one ever said being undefeated was easy, but through 12 games, Arizona remains a perfect. In their first true road game of the season, the Arizona Wildcats took down UTEP in front of a sold crowd by a final score of 60-55.

Don’t let the name fool you. As stated in my game preview, UTEP is a quality basketball team who could sneak into the tournament. At 6-4, three of UTEP’s losses have now come from undefeated teams.

UTEP has a lot of size and talent, and we saw that last night with the dominant performance of their big men, and the underachievement of our frontcourt.

It was all Vince Hunter for UTEP, just as expected, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, despite being fouled out with about seven minutes remaining. In his post game interview, Sean Miller straight up said if Hunter doesn’t foul out, Arizona losses this game. And he’s not wrong, Hunter was having it his way last night.

For Arizona, it was Stanley Johnson (again) and Gabe York leading the way. Stanley took the game over with his defense, three-point shot and free throw shooting, finishing with 17 points and six rebounds. York also dazzled the announcers with his offensive game, finishing with 13 points.

This is where the veteran leadership of T.J. McConnell came in, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Notice how the three standout performances came from the backcourt, all because UTEP’s size was taking care of business. Kaleb Tarczewski was showing his frustrations late in the game, finishing with five points and five rebounds before fouling out in the final two minutes.

In a grind-it-out kind of win on the road, Miller stuck with his lineup and played his younger guys in Elliot Pitts, Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Rustic.

Pitts didn’t score, but Miller had enough confidence in his defense to warrant keeping him out on the floor. PJC was able to keep his cool and run the offense in a pressure situation, where every possession mattered. Ristic played a total of three minutes before the Wildcats head coach pulled the plug, clearly not able to handle the experience of two senior forwards and an All-American forward in Vince Hunter.

The Wildcats will now close out their non-conference schedule on Tuesday at UNLV. Check back here on Monday for a preview of that game.