Rhode Island vs Arizona

No. 5 Arizona 87, Rhode Island 59


TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Arizona Wildcats are headed to New York City. Not that anyone ever doubted they would be.

Nick Johnson had 20 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and six assists to lead the fifth-ranked Wildcats to an 87-59 rout of Rhode Island on Tuesday night in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-off.

Brandon Ashley added 16 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 13 and Aaron Gordon 12 for the Wildcats (5-0), who play Drexel in the tournament semifinals Nov. 27 in Madison Square Garden. No. 6 Duke plays Alabama in the other semifinal.

"I mean, it's big. Who wouldn't want to play in MSG?" Johnson said. "I mean, it's the biggest stage in basketball -- period. We knew that coming into the season."

Johnson's previous career high in rebounds was seven.

"I just made it a point today to go to the glass," he said. "I've got a few people on the bench telling me 'Go to the glass, go to the glass.' If I get a rebound, that kills one pass that we have to make to our point guard or to one of our guards and we just get out on the break. So I've been trying to do that a little bit more, get us into our offense a little quicker."

Xavier Munford scored 20 on 6 for 16 shooting for the Rams, who never led. No other Rhode Island player reached double figures.

The Rams (3-2) lost their 21st straight against a ranked team.

The Wildcats led by 24 at halftime and as many as 32 after that.

"We were kind of shell-shocked," Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said. "They're very good at both ends of the floor. They contest everything from the 3-point line and at the basket. I imagine that's as close to playing an NBA teams in terms of personnel and ability. That's as good a college basketball team as I've seen in person."

Coach Sean Miller wasn't surprised with what arguably was Johnson's most complete game yet.

"Each year that he's been at Arizona, he's improved," Miller said. "His freshman year he was solid, his sophomore year he was better and I think I said this all preseason, I look at him becoming an all-conference player. He reminds me a lot of the track that Solomon Hill was on -- each year adding on to the track of what he already did well."

Not everything Tuesday night earned Miller's approval.

Arizona got off to a sloppy start, with four early turnovers, and was up only 10-6 after Rhode Island's Biggie Minnis scored with 10:50 left in the game.

"For the first time coaching our team I really felt like the first eight minutes of the game we weren't a cohesive unit," Miller said. "I wouldn't call us selfish as much as we had a few of those 'my turn' type of shots, where 'I didn't get one last time so let me take one this time.' That never works out. It's a disaster waiting to happen."

The Wildcats scored six quick points, four by Johnson, in a 13-3 spurt that made it 23-9 on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's dunk on a lob from T.J. McConnell with 6:54 left in the half. Munford's basket cut the lead to 23-11, then the Wildcats erupted in a 14-3 run. Gordon had a reverse dunk on a lob from McConnell, then Hollis-Jefferson sank a 3. Arizona led 37-14 and the rout was on.

In the final minute of the half, McConnell sank a 3 and Ashley made two from the foul line to put the Wildcats up 43-19 at the break.

The Rams shot 25 percent in the first half (7 for 28) to Arizona's 56 percent (18 of 32).

Arizona outscored Rhode Island 13-6 to start the second half to go up 56-25 on Johnson's two free throws with 15:20 to play.

The Rams, who struggled to beat Metro State 66-63 in the first round Monday night, put together a 19-7 run that cut the lead to 63-44 on a pair of free throws by Munford with 8:46 to play. Rhode Island had a chance to get closer but Gordon blocked Matthew Butler's shot and Gabe York sank a 3-pointer. Rhode Island never got it under 20 again.

Rhode Island's last victory against a ranked team came against then-No. 25 Utah on Dec. 2, 1998.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
Rhode Island (3-2)194059
Arizona #5 (5-0) «434487
RI:X. Munford 22 Pts
RI:G. Biruta 6 Reb
RI:B. Minnis 3 Ast
ARIZ:N. Johnson 20 Pts
ARIZ:N. Johnson 10 Reb
ARIZ:N. Johnson 6 Ast

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Rhode IslandArizona
Xavier Munford
Nick Johnson
Rhode Island Rams
X. Munford, G367-187-940022
G. Biruta, F344-90-06148
J. Reischel, F313-70-23036
M. Powell, G160-22-23002
I. Onyekaba, F100-10-00020
E. Matthews, G240-63-40243
B. Minnis, G213-52-42349
T. Buchanan, G132-33-42017
H. Martin, F110-10-00010
M. Aaman, F31-20-01002
M. Butler, G10-00-00000
J. Hare, FDid Not Play
E. Youncofski, GDid Not Play
J. Nazarko, GDid Not Play
S. Plunkett, GDid Not Play
Totals 20-5417-252161959
Arizona Wildcats
B. Ashley, F315-86-860316
A. Gordon, F295-122-372112
T. McConnell, G283-40-02527
N. Johnson, G267-124-4106220
K. Tarczewski, C244-50-14258
R. Hollis-Jefferson, F225-72-421213
G. York, G213-60-01118
E. Pitts, G61-20-01123
J. Hazzard, G30-10-00110
M. Korcheck, F30-00-01000
Z. Peters, F30-00-02000
J. Mayes, G20-00-00010
T. Mason, G20-00-00010
D. Mellon, FDid Not Play
E. Conklin, FDid Not Play
C. Johnson, FDid Not Play
Totals 33-5714-2036192187
Atlantic 10
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Rhode Island5-013-314
George Mason3-29-9196
St. Bona.2-312-542
Saint Josephs2-37-9190
Geo. Wash.1-48-10211
Saint Louis1-48-10197
La Salle1-47-11166

Pac 12
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Arizona St.2-314-325
Oregon St.2-310-7169
Wash. State1-49-8147
Other games
ECU 74 Final
HRTF 48 Final
LOU 87
UTA 76 Final
UK 105
MEMP 80 Final
OKST 101
IONA 66 Final
KAN 86
NDAK 85 Final
WISC 103
UTVA 54 Final
ORE 69