Long Beach State v Arizona

The biggest difference between this season and last on display as Arizona rolls

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TUCSON – To say the least the 2011-12 season for the Arizona Wildcats was one that didn’t go as expected. With four highly-touted freshmen and a few solid returnees, Sean Miller’s bunch was expected to contend for a Pac-12 title.

No need to rehash what happened despite being one win away from the NCAA tournament, but one of the big problems for that group was the fact that there weren’t many available solutions if something went wrong.

Three games into the 2012-13 season, it’s safe to say that won’t be an issue for this group (knock on wood).

Taking on a Long Beach State squad with just nine available players the Wildcats jumped the 49ers early, and another run in the second half put the game away as the Wildcats won 94-72.

Brandon Ashley, inserted into the starting lineup in place of fellow freshman Grant Jerrett, scored the first nine points of the game and finished with a game-high 20 points and ten rebounds for his first double-double as a Wildcat.

In total four Wildcats reached double figures and as a team Arizona shot 53.6% from the field, with 17 of their 30 field goals being assisted.

And just one game after out-rebounding UTEP by an dominant 35-15 margin, Arizona took advantage of Long Beach State’s rebounding issues to the tune of a 41-23 margin.

To say the least it was a good night for the Wildcats.

“We did some great things tonight,” said Miller. “Offensive I believe we got the ball inside better than we have in any of our games we’ve played. That’s a work in progress and I have no doubt we’ll continue to develop and get smoother at being able to do that.”

As noted above Long Beach State was down to just nine players, and it didn’t help matters that leading scorer James Ennis sat the first five-plus minutes as punishment for being late for the team bus.

But he was on the floor when Arizona put together their first run to establish a solid working margin, as they went on an 18-3 run to take a 37-16 lead with 7:10 remaining in the half.

From that point Arizona would lead by no fewer than 11 points, extended their lead to as many as 30 in the second half.

Senior wing Solomon Hill became the program’s 47th player to reach the 1,000-point mark and finished the game with 15 points, but the fact that he shot just 2-of-8 from the field (11-of-11 FT) didn’t matter. When you can go ten deep and have players like Kevin Parrom come off the bench and knock down four three-pointers, it becomes far easier to account for one player’s off night.

While Arizona certainly had stretches of excellent play there are things to work on, most notably their three-point defense. Long Beach State knocked down 14 shots from distance, essentially keeping the game from getting really out of hand.

“Giving up 14 threes is bad. It wasn’t that they got hot; they earned it,” noted Miller. “But it’s not just Long Beach. If you look at the two exhibition games and three regular season games we’ve played, that’s a problem right now.

“And with this break that’s a big focus for us, to be able to take away the three-point shot not at the expense of the other things we’re doing well but just [to] improve that.”

Defending the three isn’t an issue along the lines of what Arizona attempted to navigate last season, and when you’ve got ten talented players at your disposal it becomes easier to find answers to some of the issues that will pop up during games.

And given the youth of some of the players in the rotation, Arizona’s bound to get better as the season wears on.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Texas A&M-CC with an off-the-backboard dunk

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This is pretty nice from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who has made a habit out of getting themselves on the highlight reel.

Here’s another angle of the dunk:

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen trips Louisville player

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) loses the ball as North Carolina State's BeeJay Anya (21) and Cody Martin (15) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Duke won 88-80. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Whenever anyone puts together a list of the most hated players in college basketball history, there is always a common theme: it’s headlined by white guys from Duke.

Christian Laettner. J.J. Redick. Steve Wojciechowski. Jon Scheyer. Greg Paulus. Bobby Hurley.

It was only a matter of time before Grayson Allen, Duke’s latest caucasian star, found himself on that list, and last night might have been the moment that got him there.

[RELATED: How a busted pair of sneakers led Grayson Allen to Duke]

Allen is in the midst of an All-American caliber season with the Blue Devils, averaging 20.8 points, 4.6 boards and 3.6 assists while shooting 43.9 percent from three. He’s also athletic enough to dunk over entire front lines in traffic, and he does all this while looking strikingly similar to Ted Cruz.

grayson-allen-ted-cruz

He also plays with a chip on his shoulder. After last year’s national title game, Justise Winslow let it slip that Mike Krzyzewski’s pet name for Allen is ‘a**hole’, and a person close to the program told me that no one wants to guard him in practice they’ll “most likely get an elbow to the face.”

In other words, his ceiling for national hatred is roughly equivalent to Brandon Ingram’s ceiling as a small forward in the NBA.

And the tipping point may have come last night during Duke’s 72-65 win over No. 13 Louisville.

Early in the second half, Allen received a flagrant foul for tripping Louisville forward Ray Spalding. You can’t get in a kid’s mind and know intent, but this sure looks like he meant to trip Spalding:

I don’t know how long Allen will be around at Duke, but if he does remain in Durham for four years, he’s got a shot at putting up numbers similar to what Redick posted during his career. By the end, when Redick was a national sensation and the target of the worst jeers you can imagine coming from student sections across the country, he was able to channel that into motivation.

Redick fed off of the crowd turning on him.

He wanted Maryland fans to chant, ‘F— you JJ’, because it then felt just that much better when he put 30 on them in a win.

If Allen sticks around for another season, he needs to embrace that mentality. He needs to get used to being the target of all the Duke hatred. Because it’s coming.