First Posted: 11/9/2013
(AP) Aaron Gordon scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots in his collegiate debut for No. 6 Arizona and the Wildcats opened their season with a 73-62 victory over pesky Cal Poly on Friday night.
Arizona took the lead for good with just under 11 minutes left in the first half but the Mustangs, who beat UCLA last season, stayed close until the final minutes.
Six players reached double figures for the Wildcats.
Gabe York scored 12 points, Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson had 11 apiece and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 10 for the Wildcats, who were 20 of 36 from the free throw line.
Kyle Odister scored 21 points for Cal Poly on 7-of-14 shooting from 3-point range. Chris Eversley added 17 points for the Mustangs, who were 11 of 26 on 3-pointers.
Arizona led 37-34 at halftime and didn’t get the lead to double digits until Gordon blocked a shot, then converted a three-point play at the other end to put the Wildcats ahead 56-45 with 9:47 to play. Cal Poly never got closer than seven points after that.
Gordon had a tip-in and a 3-pointer, but two missed free throws, in the first 4 minutes as Arizona took an 11-4 lead.
But a 9-0 run on three straight 3-pointers, two by Odister and one by Michael Bolden, put Cal Poly up 19-17 with 12 1-2 minutes left in the half.
C.J. McConnell, the point guard transfer from Duquesne, hit a 3 from the corner to put Arizona back on top 20-19 and the Wildcats led the rest of the way. Hollis-Jefferson, like Gordon a freshman, made two free throws with 6:19 to play in the half gave Arizona a 26-19 lead, then the Mustangs twice cut it to one before the break.
Eversley’s 3-pointer with 46 seconds left made it 35-34, then Ashley made two free throws to put Arizona ahead 37-34 at halftime.
Dave Nwaba scored all 12 of his points in the first half for the Mustangs.
York’s 3-pointer started a 7-0 spurt that put Arizona up 44-36 barely 4 minutes into the second half . Eversley’s 3-pointer cut it to 51-45 with 11:54 to play, then Johnson made a 10-footer and Gordon, after blocking a shot, came down the court, scored and was fouled for the three-point play that made it 56-45.
The Wildcats led by as many as 15 down the stretch.
Cal Poly has beaten Pac-12 teams each of the last two seasons, then-No. 11 UCLA last season and Southern California two years ago. Arizona was the highest-ranked team the Mustangs ever have played.