TUCSON, Ariz. — Nick Johnson had 20 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and six assists to lead No. 5 Arizona to an 87-59 rout of Rhode Island Tuesday night and a trip to New York City for the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-off.
Brandon Ashley added 16 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 13 and Aaron Gordon 12 for the Wildcats (5-0), who play Drexel in the tournament semifinals Nov. 27 in Madison Square Garden. No. 6 Duke plays Alabama in the other semifinal.
Xavier Munford scored 20 on 6 for 16 shooting for the Rams, who never led. No other Rhode Island player reached double figures.
The Rams (3-2) lost their 21st straight against a ranked team.
The Wildcats led by 24 at halftime and as many as 32 after that.
Arizona got off to a sloppy start, with four early turnovers, and was up only 10-6 after Rhode Island's Biggie Minnis scored with 10:50 left in the game.
But the Wildcats scored six quick points, four by Johnson, in a 13-3 spurt that made it 23-9 on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's dunk on a lob from T.J. McConnell with 6:54 left in the half. Munford's basket cut the lead to 23-11, then the Wildcats erupted in a 14-3 run. Gordon had a reverse dunk on a lob from McConnell, then Hollis-Jefferson sank a 3. Arizona led 37-14 and the rout was on.
In the final minute of the half, McConnell sank a 3 and Ashley made two from the foul line to put the Wildcats up 43-19 at the break.
The Rams shot 25 percent in the first half (7 for 28) to Arizona's 56 percent (18 of 32).
Arizona outscored Rhode Island 13-6 to start the second half to go up 56-25 on Johnson's two free throws with 15:20 to play.
The Rams, who struggled to beat Metro State 66-63 in the first round Monday night, put together a 19-7 run that cut the lead to 63-44 on a pair of free throws by Munford with 8:46 to play. Rhode Island had a chance to get closer but Gordon blocked Matthew Butler's shot and Gabe York sank a 3-pointer. Rhode Island never got it under 20 again.
Rhode Island's last victory over a ranked team came against then-No. 25 Utah on Dec. 2, 1998.