Luther, Jeter lead Arizona past Cal Poly
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Without a big name or a top-25 national ranking for the moment, the Arizona Wildcats are searching for an identity.
They’ve got a couple of upperclassmen who transferred from elsewhere that could help.
Ryan Luther scored 17 points and Chase Jeter added 16, helping the Wildcats to an 82-61 win over Cal Poly on Sunday.
“Ryan Luther’s one of our team’s best shooters,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “Sometimes he’s almost unselfish to a fault.”
Junior guard Dylan Smith, a returnee from last season’s team, came off the bench for 12 points — making 4 of 7 3s — and Arizona scored 21 points off 17 Mustang turnovers. The Wildcats (2-0) got hot in the second half after holding only a seven-point lead at halftime.
Guard Marcellus Garrick led Cal Poly (1-1) with 16 points.
“With this year’s team, we don’t have as much of a guy who’s going to fill up the scoreboard,” said Jeter, who sat out last season after transferring from Duke. “Any night, any guy can kind of have their go. It’s not about taking turns but just the effort level needs to be there every night, and different guys are going to have their time.”
The Wildcats went on a 20-0 run early in the second half to put the game away. Smith sank a pair of 3s in that stretch as Cal Poly went more than seven minutes without a point.
A short jumper from Donovan Fields ended the scoreless spell for the Mustangs with 11:02 left, but they trailed 63-41.
Luther’s layup gave Arizona its first double-digit lead of the game, 49-39, with 16:55 to play. Arizona went up by as many as 32 points before the game ended.
“I think we were really fatigued. You could see the shortness we had on shots,” Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said of the second half. “It didn’t look like we were really in big-game game shape.”
Arizona led only 41-34 at halftime and never led by more than eight points in the first half, the Wildcats trying to counter the Mustangs’ zone defense. Luther, a graduate transfer from Pitt, had 10 points to lead Arizona, with Garrick making 3 of 5 3s in the half to lead the Mustangs with 11.
“We just tried to get the ball in the high post and not be stationary,” Luther said.
Smith just missed a 3-point attempt that rattled out at the halftime buzzer, but he and Luther hit two 3s each in the half.
Wildcats forward Ira Lee returned after being suspended for the season opener and scored six points with a team-high eight rebounds in 13 minutes.
Cal Poly won’t play on its home court until Dec. 8, with the Mustangs’ next six games on the road. At least all of the games are up and down the West Coast, in California, Washington state and Oregon.
Arizona will get a good deal of national exposure in the non-conference season, with five upcoming games on the ESPN networks including three at the Maui Invitational November 19-21.
Smith’s second 3 in the 20-0 run was a jumper on a fastbreak, off a pass up the floor from Brandon Williams. Smith jogged back down the court with three fingers held low.
Former Wildcats star and 17-year NBA veteran Richard Jefferson served as analyst on the Pac-12 Network broadcast of the game, his on-air debut, and was greeted by several fans before the game.
“Announcing is like seamless for him,” Miller said. “It’s good to have an Arizona guy behind the microphone.”
Cal Poly plays at Sacramento State on Friday.
Arizona hosts Texas El-Paso on Friday.
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