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Arizona runs away from UC Irvine

Nov 20, 2014 - 5:45 AM Tucson, AZ ( - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson brought McKale Center to life with a highlight reel jam early in the second half to jumpstart No. 2 Arizona after a lethargic start, and the Wildcats used a dominant final 10 minutes to run away from UC Irvine, 71-54.

Hollis-Jefferson, widely considered the best sixth man in the nation and a first-round pick in next year's NBA draft should be declare, injected some life into Arizona at the 14:57 mark of the second half. Trailing by three, Stanley Johnson drove baseline and dished to a cutting Hollis- Jefferson, who rose up and threw down a lefty slam over 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye.

The Wildcats outscored Irvine 35-17 from there.

Hollis-Jefferson scored a game-high 19 points, T.J. McConnell filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, nine rebounds and six steals and Johnson posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Arizona (3-0) trailed by 29-26 at halftime before outscoring the visiting Anteaters (2-1) by 20 in the second half.

"We were tested tonight in a really big way," said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. "That is not a function of us not playing well, that's a function of the quality of UC Irvine."

Luke Nelson and Travis Souza scored 11 points apiece for Irvine, which came in with comfortable wins over Division III Chapman and Pacific out of the West Coast Conference.

Both teams had just five made field goals at the third media timeout, as a defensive battle early on saw Arizona lead 14-11. Ndiaye scored four early points on a pair of post moves.

The rest of the half belonged to Irvine. Alex Young hit a runner and Souza followed with a triple. Young then hit from deep, and the visitors led 19-14.

UA briefly went in front on Hollis-Jefferson's jumper, but Irvine led 29-26 at halftime.

The Anteaters led by as many as six in the second half and five at 13:09 following Dominique Dunning's jumper.

It wasn't until Hollis-Jefferson made four straight free throws that the Wildcats found themselves back in front. The foul shots came during a 15-0 run that, fittingly, Hollis-Jefferson capped with a jumper with just under five minutes to play.

Irvine scored just eight points over the final 10:30 of the game.

Game Notes

Irvine has lost 10 straight against ranked opponents ... Brandon Ashley scored 11 for Arizona ... Arizona's bench outscored Irvine's, 24-8 ... Ndiaye had nine points.