HONOLULU (Dec. 22, 2012) – Arizona opened the game on a 25-8 run and the Bucs couldn’t recover as the fourth-ranked Wildcats handed the ETSU men’s basketball team a 73-53 setback in the opening game of the Diamond Head Classic on Saturday night inside the Stan Sheriff Center.
Jarvis Jones (Memphis, Tenn.) led the Blue and Gold with a career-high 21-point performance, while Lester Wilson (Knoxville, Tenn.) was held below double figures in scoring for the first time this season. Jones – whose previous career high was 18 points against Lipscomb last January – was a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line along with posting three assists and three steals in nearly 40 minutes of play.
Wilson, ETSU's leading scorer, ended with nine points and five rebounds.
Ten different Arizona players scored in double figures with Brandon Ashley tallying 16 points and 10 rebounds, while six other players scored at least seven for the Wildcats.
The Bucs suffered their fifth straight loss and dipped to 2-8, while Arizona remained perfect by improving to 10-0 on the season.
“You hate to lose by 20 and say we did some good things, but I thought there were some good take away from tonight’s game,” said head coach Murry Bartow. “I thought we defended okay. Arizona scored 73 points, shot 42 percent, and had 18 turnovers, so there are some positives to take away when you are playing one of the top teams in the country.
“The problem for us was on the offensive end. We struggled out there tonight, and when the ball doesn’t go in the basket it makes it difficult to win games. Our starters didn’t score the ball as efficiently as they needed to. I thought Jarvis did some things well, but some of the other guys didn’t step up for us. In the end, we have to become a better offensive team and I think it will help when we get Petey McClain back on the floor so we can push Jarvis back to the two. We just need to keep building and trying to improve every day.”
The Wildcats scored the first 11 points of the game and eventually built the 17-point lead when Nick Johnson’s fast-break dunk put Arizona ahead, 25-8, with 11:19 left in the half. From there, the Blue and Gold looked to have weathered the storm as the Bucs held Arizona without a field goal for over seven minutes; however, ETSU was only able to cut its deficit to 14, 29-15, courtesy of a pair of free throws by Jones at the 3:46 mark. Unfortunately, the Wildcats closed the half on a 9-2 spurt to hold a 38-17 lead at the break.
The Bucs only made six field goals in the opening 20 minutes and shot 22.2 percent, compared to Arizona’s 44.1 shooting clip. The Wildcats hit 15 of their 34 attempts and scored 12 points off nine ETSU turnovers. Arizona also took full use of its major size advantage by outscoring the Bucs 18-2 in points in the paint.
Jones ignited a Buccaneer spark in the first eight minutes of the second half as he scored 10 of ETSU’s 13 points during the surge to pull the Blue and Gold within 14, 44-30, following a pair of jumpers with 13:22 left in the contest. However, after having a chance to pull closer when Wilson came away with a steal on the next possession, the red-shirt freshman turned the ball over – leading to a quick 7-0 run and a 21-point advantage for the Wildcats, 51-30.
ETSU never had an answer after that and Arizona eventually built a 30-point cushion when the Wildcats went three straight possessions with making a 3-pointer to make it a 68-38 score at the 4:33 mark.
In the end, the Bucs scored 15 of the final 20 points of the contest, thanks to strong showings from junior Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) and freshman Yunio Barrueta (Miami, Fla.) down the stretch. Gadsden-Gilliard tallied all six of his points in a stretch of a minute and twenty-one seconds, while Barrueta scored the final four points for the Blue and Gold.
For the game, Arizona shot 42.4 percent (25-59) from the field and connected on nine of its 26 three-point attempts. On the other side, the Bucs shot 31 percent (18-58) and made six of their 23 attempts from beyond the arc – extending ETSU’s streak of making at least one three-pointer to 775 consecutive games. ETSU also shot a season-high 91.7 percent (11-12) at the free throw line, while scoring 18 points off those 18 forced turnovers.
The Bucs will now face the loser of the Hawaii/Miami game (currently in progress) at 9 p.m. (EST) Sunday on ESPNU.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com.