Arizona 63, Clemson 47

Nick Johnson had 14 points in another solid game, Solomon Hill

had two big baskets among his 13 points and Arizona rode a big

first-half cushion to a 63-47 win over Clemson on Saturday.

Arizona (7-3) jumped on the Tigers early, building a 16-point

lead by halftime and let up only a little, shooting 51 percent

against one of the ACC’s best defensive teams. The Wildcats played

a little defense of their own, holding Clemson to 16 first-half

points and 4 for 19 from 3-point range overall.

Hill added seven rebounds and six assists for Arizona, which has

a week off before facing No. 23 Gonzaga on the road.

Clemson (4-4) got off to a miserable start offensively and never

fully recovered, missing all nine of its 3-point shots in the first

half while shooting 31 percent overall.

Andre Young led the Tigers with 17 points.

The Wildcats were coming off a rough week.

Forward Sidiki Johnson, part of coach Sean Miller’s stellar

recruiting class, left the program. Josiah Turner, another

freshman, was suspended against No. 12 Florida Wednesday night for

violating team rules. And, after playing well for most of a road

game against a tough opponent, Arizona wore down against the bigger

Gators, losing a seven-point lead with six minutes left and

eventually the game 78-72 in overtime.

The Wildcats didn’t have to worry about Clemson’s size and got

off to a solid start behind its defense, building a 10-lead midway

through the first half.

Arizona’s problem against the defensive-minded Tigers was

holding onto the ball. Dribbling into traffic and throwing passes

practically right to Clemson’s defenders, the Wildcats had nine

mostly-sloppy turnovers to allow the Tigers to chip away.

Even with the turnovers, Arizona was too much for Clemson,

building a 29-16 lead by halftime.

Nick Johnson was a big reason.

The athletic freshman has made steady progress in his first

season in the desert, providing a steadying influence at the point

despite his young age.

Johnson kept his roll going against Clemson, soaring in for a

one-handed dunk over 7-foot-2 Clemson center Catalin Baciu in the

first half and scoring again on a high alley-oop. He opened the

second half by swatting Milton Jennings and set up Hill for a dunk

with a drop pass, helping the Wildcats push the lead to 18 in the

first 4 1/2 minutes.

The Wildcats let off the gas for a while, allowing Clemson to

get within nine with just over four minutes left. They quickly put

it away, though, getting two baskets inside from Hill and a soaring

fast-break dunk by Johnson on a nifty drop pass from Josiah

Turner.

Clemson’s previous three losses had been by a combined seven

points and the Tigers blew out Iowa in their last road game, a

solid start for a team that lost 40 percent of its scoring and has

six first-year players.

Playing at Arizona’s McKale Center, with all those rowdy fans

and banners hanging from the rafters, turned out to be a little

more than the young Tigers could handle.

Taking tough shots against Arizona’s swarming defense and badly

missing the few open looks they had, Clemson missed nine of its

first 10 shots to quickly fall into a 10-point hole. The Tigers

only hit a few more shots in the first half after that, going 8 for

35 from the field and missing all 10 of its 3-pointers.

Clemson fell into a deeper hole to start the first half, then

started dropping shots, chipping away at the lead until it was down

to 49-42 on T.J. Sapp’s layup with 4:23 left.

The Tigers didn’t have enough to keep it going, allowing Arizona

to go on an 8-0 run and a decisive victory.