Young or old, experienced or not, size doesn’t discriminate.
Texas Tech called for a “white out” against Arizona on Saturday, but the Red Raiders were left black and blue after the No. 9 Wildcats used a dominating inside presence to produce a 85-57 rout inside United Spirit Arena.
Arizona’s 7-foot freshman Kaleb Tarczewski collected nine of his 13 rebounds in the first half. The team’s other freshmen big men, Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley, combined for 25 points.
“It was challenging,” Tech forward Kader Tapsoba said. “They’re big. Really big.”
The Red Raiders (4-1) simply couldn’t match Arizona’s strength inside, an element the Wildcats (5-0) have enjoyed this season after being what coach Sean Miller called “a very small team a year ago.”
It certainly didn’t help Tech that sophomore forward Jordan Tolbert spent most of the game on the bench saddled with foul trouble.
“I thought that was a big key for us,” Miller said. “With him out there for a longer duration, that gives them a physical presence to go along with their pace.”
Dejan Kravic, who fouled out midway through the second half, also struggled to stay on the floor. He and Tolbert — who played just nine minutes before fouling out in the second half — combined for just eight points and four rebounds.
“That kills you,” said Tech forward Jaye Crockett, who scored a team-high 12 points. “You can’t be in foul trouble because you need those players out there. We needed to have the whole bench in the game because we were moving so fast. That hurt us a lot.”
At one point in the first half, Tech was operating with a four-guard lineup against the already far-bigger Wildcats.
When Tech did sag inside to limit Arizona in the paint, the Wildcats made it pay by connecting on 8 of 22 shots from 3-point range, six of those in the first half. During one stretch midway through the first half, Arizona hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions, ballooning a three-point lead into a 30-18 advantage. The Red Raiders didn’t get closer than seven the rest of the way.
“This is a whole other dimension to our game,” sophomore guard Nick Johnson said of the team’s post play. “With them being so dominant down low ... we get a lot of open shots.”
Arizona’s size and length stood out defensively, as the Red Raiders struggled to find the kind of baskets in transition that had helped them average almost 90 points in their first four games.
“The court is so small with guys that long,” Tech coach Chris Walker said.
Five straight points by Jaye Crockett helped the Red Raiders tie the game at 11 four minutes in, but offense was hard to come by after that point.
Still, the Red Raiders didn’t go away quietly. A 10-2 run, capped by a Daylen Robinson 3-pointer, cut the Arizona lead — which grew as large as 36 in the second half — to 55-42 with 13 minutes left.
But that was but a minor blip on a dominating performance for the Wildcats, who closed the game on a 30-15 run while looking every bit the part of a top-10 team.
Arizona shot a scorching 58 percent from the field. Tech, meanwhile, converted just 34 percent (22 of 63) of its field-goal attempts.
Nick Johnson scored 18 points to lead a balanced Arizona scoring effort that featured five players in double figures.
"We have some inexperienced guys," Walker said, "and that was a good game for them to get a taste of what high-level Division I basketball is all about."
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