Arizona 83, New Mexico St 76: Arizona got off to yet another slow start despite some highly anticipated lineup changes. Kyryl Natyazkho was delegated to the bench in favor of Nick Johnson and a smaller starting group. But NMSU jumped to a 10-2 lead forcing a Miller timeout and no doubt a significant tongue lashing. Then it was time for Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson to show just how great they’re going to be. With the Wildcats down 56-58 with 10 minutes to play, Turner and Johnson scored or assisted Arizona’s next 16 points as the growing Wildcats pulled away. It was undoubtedly Turner’s best game as a Wildcat, going for 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. He did have 4 turnovers and fouled out, but it appears Turner is getting the hang of things. Johnson, however, stole the show with his sky high dunks and knack for hitting big shots. He scored 19 points in the Wildcat victory. There remain questions surrounding Arizona’s interior strength and inability to stop dribble penetration, but in this young season, wins are wins. Also, Solomon Hill continues to play terrific (12-6-7, one turnover).
Oregon 64, UTEP 59: The big news here is that Dana Altman’s squad has lost its second freshman in as many weeks. Two weeks ago Jabari Bird left the program inexplicably. Then, last night, it was announced that Bruce Barron would leave the team as well. After the game, Altman made no bones about the fact that they were off the team, “I want guys who want to be here (and) I think everybody else is pretty solid.” With the proverbial door closed, the once fad pick for a big year find themselves slightly depleted and hurt. That said, these departures open doors for other players to excel and Jonathan Loyd did just that. The sophomore scored a career high 24 points and had this to say about it, “I love basketball, and getting more minutes means more fun. I just took the opportunity that I saw and it just happened to be me scoring.” He’ll need to continue to do so for the Ducks to remain competitive this season. The departures are also perplexing as Altman appears to get a lot of players minutes. Nine Ducks recorded 11 or more minutes Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see how this team – and program – moves forward.