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TUCSON, Ariz. – Aaron Gordon had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Brandon Ashley added 16 points and No. 6 Arizona rolled over Long Beach State 91-57 on Monday night.
After a so-so opener against Cal Poly, Arizona (2-0) looked more like the team everyone expected, dominating Long Beach State from the opening tip.
Gordon and T.J. McConnell, who had eight assists, got it started and the Wildcats smothered the 49ers defensively all night, holding them to 27 percent shooting.
Gabe York had 14 points and six assists, Nick Johnson added 14 points and Arizona shot 58 percent from the field.
Dan Jennings had 16 points to lead Long Beach State (1-1), which went 5 of 23 from 3-point range.
Arizona came into this season loaded with expectations, largely because of the talented players they added to a strong core — namely Gordon and McConnell.
Gordon came in with the potential, an unfreshman-like frame and work ethic accentuating his athleticism.
McConnell was the known quantity. A transfer from Duquense who sat out last season, he gave the Wildcats an immediate dose of smarts and grit, not to mention everywhere-at-the-same-time defense and the pass-first point guard they had been missing.
Gordon had a solid opener, getting 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Cal Poly, and McConnell had six assists, though coach Sean Miller would have liked him to look for his shot more.
Together, they got the rout started against Long Beach State.
McConnell got it rolling by snaring a pass near the baseline and floating an alley-oop pass to Gordon, who threw it down emphatically.
McConnell also set up York for a 3-pointer with an up-fake, while Gordon scored on a putback and an acrobatic reverse.
Gordon also stroked in a 3-pointer, on a feed from McConnell, and a putback at the buzzer for 11 points at halftime. McConnell had seven assists and York hit four 3-pointers for 12 points to help Arizona build a 44-18 halftime lead.
It shouldn't have been much of a surprise.
Long Beach State lost to Arizona 94-72 at the McKale Center last season and has just four returning players this season after coach Don Monson did not invite back three who were expected to be contributors this season.
In rebuilding mode, it was always going to be a tough matchup for the 49ers.
And it was.
Long Beach State missed 12 of its first 13 shots — three on airballs — and was down 10 in the first 7 minutes. The 49ers shot 5 of 35 in the first half, including 1 of 14 from 3-point range, leaving no chance of a comeback.