Sat, 23 Jan 2021

Arizona opens with blowout of Grambling State

Field Level Media
28 Nov 2020, 10:40 GMT+10

Nevada transfer Jordan Brown had 19 points and 15 rebounds as Arizona kept Grambling State at bay and opened its season with a 74-55 victory Friday in Tucson, Ariz.

Brown, a 6-foot-11 sophomore who sat out last season, helped the Wildcats control the point against the Tigers (0-2). The former five-star recruit made 8 of 10 shots from the field and reached double-double status early in the second half.

Another transfer, James Akinjo, tied for Arizona's team-high scoring honors with 19 points. Akinjo, the 2018-19 Big East Freshman of the Year at Georgetown, made 4 of 9 shots from 3-point range and had three assists while taking over point guard duties from second-round NBA draft pick Nico Mannion.

The Tigers trailed by 20 early in the second half but kept battling, cutting their deficit to 10 on a dunk off an offensive rebound from Cameron Woodall with 7:03 to go. Arizona struggled against Grambling State's zone -- shooting 28 percent (7 of 25) from beyond the arc -- but was able to expand its double-digit lead down the stretch.

Woodall scored a team-high 19 points. Grambling State's Trevell Cunningham had eight points, nine rebounds and eight assists, but he missed all five of his shots from behind the arc.

Grambling State, which went 1 of 10 from 3-point range in a 69-53 loss at Grand Canyon on Wednesday in Phoenix, struggled again from long distance, sinking 3 of 22 attempts.

Arizona played without senior post player Ira Lee (concussion) and freshman guard Kerr Kriisa, who has returned to his home in Estonia while awaiting clearance from the NCAA.

Of the six players in the eight-man rotation, six did not play for the Wildcats last season. Another promising newcomer in the opener was freshman wing Bennedict Mathurin, who came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds in 23 minutes.

Grambling State scored the first basket but never led past 2-0. Arizona scored the next 10 points and later put together a 9-0 run that provided a 24-12 advantage. The Wildcats led by as many as 19 in the first half before taking a 39-23 halftime edge.

--Field Level Media

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