TUCSON, Ariz. — Listening to his coach’s admonishment to attack more, Arizona freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson took off from the right side of the lane, planted his right arm on his opponent’s head and unleashed a vicious tomahawk dunk that left the home crowd stunned.
Letdown? It was more of a beatdown.
Shaking off a slow start as it adjusted to a quirky defense, Arizona showed no sign of slowing down in its first game as the nation’s No. 1 team, racing to a 74-48 victory over New Mexico State on Wednesday night.
“We just go out there and play like we’re playing a Duke every night,” Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell said. “We wanted to be underdogs at No. 1 and just go out and play hard.”
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Arizona (10-0) labored out of the gate in its first game in a decade at No. 1, unsure of what to do against New Mexico State’s unique defense.
Once the Wildcats figured it out, the rout was on.
Putting on a show for the home fans, Arizona turned a close game into a rout with an array of dunks, three-pointers and a suffocating defense that made every shot a test for the Aggies (7-5).
Brandon Ashley showed off his improved perimeter shooting, hitting all three of his three-point attempts while scoring 15 points. Kaleb Tarczewski didn’t back down from Sim Bhullar, the Aggies’ 7-foot-5 center, repeatedly finishing at the rim and making all five of his shots for 14 points.
McConnell had nine points and six assists while orchestrating Arizona’s offense, and Hollis-Jefferson provided a big lift with 12 points, eight rebounds and the one big dunk.
The Wildcats shot 52 percent, dominated the glass (38-22) and held their fifth opponent under 60 points to open 10-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time as a program.
“Once we figured out what they were doing, we pretty much got what we wanted,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
Daniel Mullings had 18 points to lead the Aggies, who lost their fourth straight.
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At No. 3 Ohio State 86, Bryant 48
Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored 19 points and Amir Williams added 12 points and nine rebounds for Ohio State (9-0), which pulled away early. Dyami Starks had 16 points for Bryant (6-5).
At No. 4 Wisconsin 78, Milwaukee 52
Ben Brust scored 18 points and Frank Kaminsky added 16 as Wisconsin (11-0) remained undefeated. Kyle Kelm scored 17 points for Milwaukee (9-3).
• Former North Carolina State coach Sidney Lowe pleaded guilty to failing to file his North Carolina tax returns for three years. He must pay more than $79,000 in restitution plus a $2,000 fine.
• Cameron Rodriguez, a 23-year-old forward at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., will be allowed to keep $20,000 he won by hitting a half-court shot at an Oklahoma City Thunder game. He will be allowed to use the money toward his tuition without losing any athletic eligibility.
• The NCAA women’s basketball regionals are going back to neutral sites. The championship committee announced that Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Greensboro and Albany will host the 2015 regionals.