Aaron Gordon might be the Arizona Wildcats’ best player, but he is not their most important player. That title belongs to junior guard Nick Johnson. Johnson struggled from the floor against the Drexel Dragons and so did the Wildcats.
Going into the day, the Wildcats were ranked fourth in the country and looked as if they had one of the best shots in the country to win the national title. Tonight, they did not deserve that honor; the Dragons proved that basketball is anyone’s game. Johnson had missed every single three-point jumper he had taken in the first half and halfway through the second. He was 0-4 from three-point land until he hit one with six minutes to go in the game; the three-point jumper is his specialty.
We all know that Gordon is the game-changing player that every team looks for in a freshman, but the veteran leadership and knowledge of the game that Johnson brings is too valuable to pass up. Coach Sean Miller has to have his veteran guard, Johnson, step up and hit the shots they need to win that title.
The Wildcats have high hopes heading into this season, and have proven until tonight that they were real contenders for not only the PAC-12 regular season title, but the national championship as well.
Today was just a bad day for the Wildcats offensively; in the first half, they shot a wild 6-20 from the floor and had nine turnovers. In the second half, Johnson and the Wildcats proved their hype and started running away from the Dragons.
Down 29-20 at the half, the Wildcats held the Dragons to 18 points in the second half and won 66-62. The defense was a catalyst for the offense for Arizona tonight, especially on the glass. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Dragons by 10 in the game.
Johnson took over the game in the second half leading to the victory; he is after all the team’s most valuable player. He finished 20 points including 1-6 from behind the arc and 9-10 from the line. Gordon’s stat line was impressive despite his horrible shooting, as he finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
John Lloyd is a PAC-12 basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII