TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona blotted out views of the rim, jumped into passing lanes, contested every shot and dribble. Nothing new there. The Wildcats have been doing that all season.
The difference against Michigan was the Wildcats got off to a fast start on offense and kept it rolling, turning a highly anticipated nonconference game into a rousing rout.
Playing its best all-around game of the season, No. 3 Arizona got the ball inside early and out in transition throughout the game to crush Michigan 80-53 on Saturday.
“Today, Arizona showed they really have it all,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.
Arizona (10-0) was at its usual harassing best, holding Michigan without a field goal for a long stretch of the first half, crowding the Wolverines all game.
Instead of relying on their defense to pull out a close victory, the Wildcats ran away with it.
Arizona used size advantage on the inside early by getting the ball in Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley, forcing the Wolverines to drop double teams into the post.
Once they did, the Wildcats worked the ball around for open shots and made many of them, shooting 58 percent.
Stanley Johnson had arguably the best game of his freshman season, finishing with 17 points — most of it within the framework of the offense — and seven rebounds while playing solid positional defense. Gabe York got to the rim early to open up his perimeter game and finished with 15 points.
Tarczewski gave the smaller Wolverines fits all day but particularly early in the game, scoring 15 points while grabbing seven rebounds.
Ashley had 10 points and Arizona dominated inside, outscoring Michigan 42-16 in the paint while grabbing 14 more rebounds for its 28th consecutive home win.
“Today was our best performance of the season,” Arizona coach Sean Miller after his team’s 37th straight regular-season nonconference victory. “It was the combination of a very good defense, which we’ve shown to this point, but also a better offense, an improved offense.
Michigan (6-4) capped off a disappointing week with a dismal performance.
The Wolverines fell into a quick double-digit hole and struggled against Arizona’s defense all day, shooting 35 percent for their first three-game losing streak since 2010-11.
Zak Irvin led Michigan with 14 points.
“It’s a great reality check for everyone,” Beilein said. “We know that we have a lot of work to do.”
Arizona has won some tough games to this point, knocking off Kansas State and San Diego State to win the Maui Invitational before outlasting No. 9 Gonzaga in overtime last week.
Michigan had taken a pretty big stumble over the past week, leaving the Wildcats a little wary of the Wolverines.
Michigan was the victim last weekend in one of college basketball’s biggest upsets in recent years, losing 72-20 to New Jersey Institute of Technology, a 24-point underdog. The hangover still lingering, the Wolverines lost to Eastern Michigan after scoring 42 points against the neighboring school.
What worried Arizona was a bounce-back game by Michigan.
The Wolverines played in the Elite Eight last season — as did Arizona — and beat Syracuse earlier this year, so they’re still a talented team. They also figured to be a little angry after two unexpected home losses.
The Wildcats made their mood a little worse.
Plagued by slow starts this season, Arizona made eight of its first nine shots to go up 20-9. The Wildcats kept dropping shots and filling up the highlight reel, going up 33-17 on a jump-out-of-the-gym, one-handed alley-oop by Johnson on a feed from York in transition.
Arizona made 15 of shots 24 in the first half, building a 36-25 lead.
Michigan kept up for the first few minutes, but faded quickly against Arizona’s pressure.
The Wolverines went more than 7 minutes without a field goal and shot 7 of 22 in the opening half.
“That was one of things we talked about all week in practice, getting off to a good start,” said Tarczewski, who was 5 of 6 from the floor. “We did that.”
Little changed to start the second half.
Michigan missed its first six shots while Arizona had the fans leaping out of their seats every few trips down the floor.
The Wildcats opened with an 11-0 run highlighted by Ashley’s two-handed alley-oop on an inbound play and York’s 3-pointer from the corner.
“We just wanted to build, build, build,” Johnson said.
They did and, in the process, showed just how good an all-around team this can be.
Michigan: Irvin made 6 of 13 shots after going 5 for 23 the previous two games. … The Wolverines shot 7 of 26 from 3-point range.
Arizona: The Wildcats had 19 assists and 10 turnovers. … Johnson had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half.
Michigan hosts Southern Methodist next Saturday.
Arizona hosts Oakland on Tuesday.