The Arizona Wildcats are going to have a tough time duplicating last season's run to the Elite Eight without departed star Derrick Williams, but they still got off to a good start in their season opener. On Monday night, Sean Miller's team defeated the Valparaiso Crusaders by a final score of 72-64. The No. 16 Wildcats are in the process of getting some talented freshmen settled into their team, and it showed as they struggled to put away Valpo easily in Bryce Drew's first game as coach.
Valparaiso kept things close in the first half, going into the locker room down by only two points, but Arizona's defense forced a number of turnovers early in the second half as they extended their lead. Senior Kyle Fogg was the Wildcats' leading scorer with 16 points, while highly touted freshman Nick Johnson scored 14 and led Arizona with six assists.
At one point, with just under three minutes remaining, Valpo was down 66-46. They made an impressive late surge to make the score look a little more respectable, but ultimately came up short as the deficit proved too large to overcome in such a short period of time.
Arizona will play two more games against opponents they will be heavily favored to beat, Duquesne and Ball State, before taking a step up in competition to face St. John's and San Diego State in late November.