Allonzo Trier

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Balanced effort pushes Arizona past No. 7 Texas A&M

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Having struggled in non-conference play, most notably going 0-3 at the Battle 4 Atlantis, Arizona needed a quality win for its non-conference profile. The Wildcats picked up that win Tuesday night, as they beat seventh-ranked Texas A&M 67-64 at the Valley of the Sun Shootout in Phoenix. DeAndre Ayton, Brandon Randolph, Dusan Ristic and Dylan Smith led the way offensively for the Wildcats, scoring 13 points apiece, with Ayton adding ten rebounds.

Texas A&M’s Tyler Davis led all scorers with 21, but it wasn’t enough as the Aggies suffered their first loss of the season. Here are three takeaways from Arizona’s win over Texas A&M.

1. Arizona won despite an off night from Allonzo Trier.

The junior guard entered Tuesday’s game averaging 23.9 points per game, shooting 57.1 percent from the field, 39.5 percent from three and 78.0 percent from the foul line. Texas A&M managed to neutralize Trier, as he was just 2-for-7 from the field and finished the night with seven points to go along with three rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. Given Arizona’s struggles to get consistent offense from players other than Trier or Ayton in games against quality competition, the Wildcats finding a way to win despite the team’s leading scorer having an off night is a positive development.

In addition to Smith, who scored in double figures for the first time as a Wildcat, Randolph reached double figures for the third time in the last four games. Randolph, a part of Arizona’s highly regarded recruiting class, scored a total of six points in Arizona’s first four games. There’s still a lot to be improved upon, but grinding out a win despite Trier going cold is a positive for the Wildcats.

2. Tyler Davis may not be as high on draft boards as Robert Williams III, but he’s a tough cover for just about any front court.

Tuesday’s matchup between Williams and DeAndre Ayton was the one many NBA Draft types were looking forward to, as both have the potential to be lottery picks in June. But there’s something to be said for a veteran big man as well, with Tyler Davis being the one player Arizona did not seem to have an answer for defensively. Davis made nine of his 12 field goal attempts, doing much of his work on the low block.

Whether it was Ayton, Dusan Ristic or any other big man, Arizona could not do much to put Davis in situations where he would struggle to get a quality look at the basket. With Williams still being a work in progress when it comes to his offensive skill set, having a big man who can consistently produce offense on the low block will certainly help Texas A&M in its quest to win the SEC.

3. Arizona needs to be a bit more judicious with its shot selection.

Entering Tuesday’s game 31.9 percent of Arizona’s field goal attempts were three-pointers, a mark that ranked 280th in the country according to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Against Texas A&M the Wildcats attempted 22 three-pointers, making seven, with nearly 47 percent of Arizona’s field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc. And outside of Dylan Smith, who made all three of his three-pointers, Arizona combined to shoot 4-for-19 from three.

Texas A&M’s front court can make it difficult on opposing teams when it comes to finding quality looks around the basket, but there were also instances in which Arizona settled for perimeter shots. The eventual return of Rawle Alkins should help with this, but there’s also no excuse for six of Allonzo Trier’s seven shot attempts being three-pointers.

If Arizona is to reach the expectations set for them before the season began, they’ve got room to grow on both ends of the floor. That being said, building on Saturday’s win over UNLV with this quality result should help the Wildcats moving forward.

Arizona rolls over Long Beach State 91-56

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Sean Miller sat down after his team shot 60 percent in a 35-point win and talked about what was missing.

For nearly 25 minutes, the Arizona coach kept hitting the same point: Effort, particularly on the defensive end.

The Wildcats don’t have it, at least consistently, and it’s gnawing at Miller, even after a 91-56 rout over Long Beach State on Wednesday night.

“We really struggled to play with great effort and I don’t think we’re going to be very successful until that’s fixed,” Miller said. “We’re a lifeless group a lot of times.”

Arizona (4-3) dropped out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2012 following a 0-for-3 trip to the Bahamas. The Wildcats looked much more comfortable back at the McKale Center, shooting 60 percent and making 12 of 22 from 3-point range to win their 44th straight non-conference home game. Allonzo Trier scored 15 points, Deandre Ayton added 13 and six players scored in double figures.

Defensively, they were not as Miller had hoped, particularly after harping on it in practice.

“Disappointed just watching our team where we’re at,” he said. “We’ve had our moments over the last six, seven years where you watch a group, but I don’t know if I’ve seen a group that can’t bring it, can’t work, can’t really fight defensively. Man, is it disappointing.”

Long Beach State coach Dan Monson likes to schedule tough opponents to build the 49ers’ RPI and this season has been no different.

The 49ers (3-5) have already faced Oregon State, West Virginia, Missouri, and Nebraska, with a game against No. 3 Michigan State still to come.

Long Beach State won one of those games — against Oregon State on Nov. 24 — but was never really in it against the big, athletic Wildcats, falling into a 23-point hole in the first half on the way to a blowout loss.

Bryan Alberts led the 49ers with 12 points.

“We were out-manned,” Monson said. “It was not smart scheduling on my part because this is our sixth game on the road in 13 days.”

Arizona needed a bounce back from a lost week in the Bahamas. The Wildcats went into the Battle 4 Atlantis undefeated and ranked No. 2. They came home winless in three games and dropped all the way out of the rankings on Monday, becoming the first team since Louisville in 1986 to drop out of the AP Top 25 from the No. 2 spot.

The big issue: Defense.

Arizona allowed 89 points twice in the three games in the Bahamas and is allowing nearly 75 points per game, high numbers for a Sean Miller-coached team.

The Wildcats were good defensively back at home, contesting shots and jumping into passing lanes while holding the 49ers to 10-of-27 shooting in the first half.

On offense, the Wildcats gave Long Beach State a heavy dose of Ayton early, repeatedly feeding it to the 7-foot-1, 260-pound freshman in the high and low post. Ayton scored six quick points and was good at recognizing double teams, working the ball out to open shooters.

Ayton had 10 points and eight rebounds by halftime, helping Arizona to a 42-24 lead.

The 49ers used a short run to cut Arizona’s lead to 13 early in the second half, but the Wildcats ran away with a series of fast breaks and 3-pointers.

“We got it down to 13, but turned it over three straight times,” Monson said. “We just have to stay together and battle a little bit more as we grow as a team.”

NUMBERS

Long Beach State shoots 71 percent from the free-throw line, but went 8 for 17 against Arizona. … The Wildcats had a 38-24 advantage in the paint and nine more rebounds. … The 49ers had 19 turnovers that led to 27 points for Arizona. … Parker Jackson-Cartwright ran Arizona’s offense efficiently, as usual, finishing with 12 points, five assists and one turnover.

BIG PICTURE

Long Beach State was overmatched by the oversized Wildcats, but these tough early-season tests should help them once the Big West season rolls around.

Though the opponent was from a small conference, Arizona appears to be headed back in the right direction on offense. Defensively, they have a lot of room for improvement, according to their coach.

UP NEXT

Long Beach State hosts Fresno State on Saturday.

Arizona plays at UNLV on Saturday.

___

More college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

No. 17 Arizona beats No. 23 USC, moves into tie atop Pac-12

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Following a home loss to No. 11 Oregon January 28, a game in which their 49-game home win streak came to an end, No. 17 Arizona looked nothing like a team capable of winning a third consecutive Pac-12 title. But at the time they were playing without the injured Allonzo Trier, and since that defeat the Wildcats have won five straight games. Their most recent result was an 86-78 home win over No. 23 USC Sunday night, a result that moved Sean Miller’s team into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 with Oregon.

But while the game did show reasons why Arizona is more than capable of taking yet another Pac-12 title, it also showed the inconsistency that the Wildcats have fought to address throughout the season.

Arizona got off to a great start offensively against USC, getting just about whatever they wanted around the basket as they built a lead that reached 19 points late in the first half. Ryan Anderson made his first three shot attempts, with all three coming at the rim, and dribble penetration was working as well. But presented with the opportunity to land a decisive blow to start the second half, Arizona got complacent and that opened the door for a USC comeback.

The Wildcats settled for perimeter shots, and while some credit should be given to USC for their improved defense Arizona made things easier on the Trojans than they needed to be. Arizona has capable three-point shooters, with senior guard Gabe York being the best of the bunch. But when faced with a clear advantage on the offensive end of the floor they lost some discipline early in the second half, settling for contested looks as opposed to looking to the post feeds and dribble drives that were so successful at the game’s start.

“Coach always emphasizes that we get the ball inside early, try to get fouls on the other bigs, try to set the tone that way. For the most part, all year [the guards] have done a great job of starting the game that way,” Anderson said after the game. “And then once they start double-teaming, Parker, Gabe, Allonzo starting getting wide open shots and the game starts flowing for us. I thought that in the first half we were really flowing on offense and defense; we’ve just got to carry that over to the second half a lot better.”

USC managed to trim Arizona’s lead to two points but they were unable to get over the hump. Bennie Boatwright scored ten of his team-high 18 points in the second half, and both Jordan McLaughlin (11 second-half points) and Elijah Stewart (ten) were more productive in the second stanza as well. Arizona got back to attacking the paint offensively late, and with USC missing a couple opportunities to either tie the game or take the lead the Wildcats managed to put the game away.

York led four Wildcats in double figures with 17 points, and as a team Arizona shot 50 percent from the field and better than 56 percent inside of the arc on the night.

Arizona won’t get another shot at Oregon, but with five games remaining they’re in position to win another Pac-12 title. And as long as they look to take advantage of the areas in which they’re most successful, getting Anderson looks in the post and using dribble penetration from the likes of Trier, they’re more than capable of accomplishing that goal.

Arizona got away from that plan of attack early in the second half Sunday night, but managed to get back to what worked in closing the game out.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Key contests in Atlantic 10, Pac-12

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UCLA at No. 17 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
The Bruins and Wildcats have already met once this season, with a Bryce Alford three-pointer giving UCLA an 87-84 win. But UCLA has continued to struggle with consistency since then, and the chance at payback should serve as a motivating factor for Arizona. Sean Miller’s team welcomed back Allonzo Trier in Saturday’s win at Washington, and in forward Ryan Anderson they have one of the conference’s best players. The “rivalry” aspect of this game should make it a good one, as UCLA tends to show up for big-name opponents, but it could also be another major blow to the Bruins’ fleeting hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 19 Dayton at Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
The Rams have struggled with injuries all season, most recently dealing with Jarvis Garrett’s broken jaw and Kuran Iverson’s concussion. Garrett’s back on the floor, playing with a face mask that appears to be inspired by Hannibal Lecter, and it’s that team toughness that makes URI a serious threat to first-place Dayton at the Ryan Center (Iverson’s been medically cleared but remains a game-time decision). Charles Cooke has been outstanding for the Flyers this season, and Dayton’s depth makes them a tough matchup for any team much less one as banged up as URI.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. As a result of No. 11 Oregon’s loss at Cal last night, No. 23 USC finds itself tied in the loss column atop the Pac-12 standings heading into their game at Arizona State (8:00 p.m.). Outside of keeping opponents off the offensive glass the Sun Devils have had issues defensively in conference play, and with the Trojans’ many scoring options led by guards Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs this will be a tough matchup for the home team.

2. Monmouth looks to maintain its lead atop the MAAC standings, as they visit Rider (9:00 p.m.). The Broncs haven’t been the conference contender many envisioned them being when the season began but they’re still dangerous, with players such as guard Teddy Okereafor capable of giving opponents fits. Justin Robinson, who’s been excellent at the point all season long, leads the way for a Monmouth team that still has hopes of earning an at-large bid should they need it.

3. Having lost to Yale last weekend, Columbia’s in a position where they need to hold serve ahead of the rematch in New York City March 5. That makes games like tonight’s against Penn (7:00 p.m.) that much more important for Kyle Smith’s Lions, who have done a good job of turning opponents over in league play (22.8 TO%). Penn’s had issues taking care of the basketball, and that combined with Columbia’s tandem of Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg could prove to be the difference at Levien Gym.

4. Two teams looking to make a push in the MAC East race meet in Buffalo, as the Bulls host Ohio (7:00 p.m.). Nate Oats’ team had its four-game win streak snapped by Toledo, with the Rockets beating Buffalo by two Wednesday night. They’ll look to rebound with a defense that has been the best in the MAC in conference play (tops in defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage), but they have to take care of the basketball in order to do so.

5. Grand Canyon, which can’t play in the NCAA tournament as they’re still in the Division I transition process, looks to remain a game behind New Mexico State in the WAC standings. Dan Majerle’s Antelopes visit Seattle (10:00 p.m.), which handed GCU its first conference loss 13 days ago. GCU shot just 6-for-23 from three in that game, which they led by ten late in the first half. If Seattle is to win they’ll need to slow down the tandem of sophomore Joshua Braun and senior Grandy Glaze, who combine to average 31.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.

No. 18 Arizona overpowers Washington for 99-67 win

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona traded baskets with Washington’s athletic players in an entertaining first half.

Once the Wildcats turned up the defensive pressure in the final 20 minutes, the Huskies had no shot of keeping up.

Ryan Anderson scored 21 points, Kaleb Tarczewski had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and No. 18 Arizona overpowered Washington for a 99-67 victory Thursday night.

“They just did whatever they wanted in the second half,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.

The Wildcats (14-3, 2-2 Pac-12) had no trouble scoring despite playing their first game without star freshman and leading scorer Allonzo Trier (hand).

Arizona shot 60 percent, including 19 of 27 in the second half, and outscored Washington 50-32 in the paint. Parker Jackson-Cartwright was the setup man, finishing with 11 assists and one turnover, while Kadeem Allen scored 13 points and Gabe York added 12.

Defensively, the Wildcats had trouble handling the Huskies’ quickness off the dribble and ability to get to the rim.

Arizona shut Washington down in the second half with a tenacious man-to-man defense and a bit of 2-3 zone – a first by Arizona coach Sean Miller in 12 years – to extend its home winning streak to a nation-best 48 games.

“Once we went into halftime, our defense went to another level,” Miller said.

Washington (11-5, 3-1) played without a key backup on the front line and was no match for the beefier Wildcats inside.

Arizona had a 43-26 advantage on the glass against the Pac-12’s top rebounding team and closed off the lanes to the basket in the second half to turn the game into a rout.

Noah Dickerson had 17 points and Marquese Chriss added 13 for the Huskies. Andrew Andrews, the Pac-12’s leading scorer, battled foul trouble and scored nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.

“Because of the level of team they are, you don’t have any margin for error,” Romar said. “And they made us pay for it.”

The young Huskies arrived at McKale Center as the surprising leaders of the Pac-12.

Picked to finish 11th, Washington and its seven freshmen opened conference play with three straight victories behind Andrews and Dejounte Murray, who have accounted for 53 percent of its scoring.

Arizona returned home in need of a lift.

The Wildcats had a lost Southern California weekend after being swept by UCLA and USC, and lost Trier for at least a month after he was injured in the quadruple-overtime loss to the Trojans.

Washington was missing a key player of its own; freshman forward Devenir Duruisseau, a backup forward, suffered a concussion in Monday’s practice and didn’t make the trip.

That left the Huskies thin up front and the Wildcats took advantage by pounding the ball inside with a lineup that at times included 7-footers Tarczewski and Dusan Ristic at the same time.

Anderson was the beneficiary, scoring 15 points and Arizona used an 8-2 run to lead 44-41 at halftime.

“Every game, that’s one of our mottos, to play aggressive inside,” Anderson said. “We’re bigger than most teams and we’ve got to use that.”

Washington struggled with foul trouble and Andrews rolled his right ankle late in the first half, yet the Huskies used their athleticism to keep up with the Wildcats. Chriss had 11 points and Washington made 17 of 33 shots in the first half.

Arizona threw the first punch in the second half and the Huskies had no answer.

The Wildcats went on 12-4 run to go up 56-45 and extended the lead to 22 points on consecutive inside baskets by Anderson.

Washington’s good shooting dried up against Arizona’s pressure in the second half.

The Huskies made 10 of 33 shots and Andrews had to sit after picking up his fourth foul at 13:02. By the time he returned, Arizona was well on its way to the victory.

PJC DISHES

Jackson-Cartwright didn’t start at point guard, but ended up being the catalyst, pushing the ball in transition every time the frontcourt players ripped down defensive rebounds.

“So many great plays he was involved in that led to a 3-point shot or a dunk,” Miller said. “He was in total control out there.”

TIP-INS

Washington: Washington was 2 for 12 on 3-pointers in the second half. … Murray had eight points on 8-of-12 shooting and six turnovers in his first game at McKale Center.

Arizona: Junior guard Elliott Pitts missed his ninth straight game due to unspecified personal reasons. … The Wildcats have won 22 straight Pac-12 games at home. … Arizona has scored at least 80 points in nine straight games, its longest streak since 11 straight in 1997-98.

UP NEXT

Washington plays at Arizona State on Saturday.

Arizona hosts Washington State on Saturday.

Arizona loses leading scorer to a broken hand

(Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)
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Arizona’s brutal week got even worse on Sunday as the program announced that Allonzo Trier will be out for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken right (shooting) hand.

Trier had 25 points, six boards and two assists in the quadruple-overtime loss at USC on Saturday, the game in which he injured his hand. He had 13 points in Thursday’s road loss at UCLA.

“He was playing the best basketball of his young career at Arizona,” head coach Sean Miller said in a statement. “Allonzo has worked tirelessly every day since he arrived on our campus. Hopefully he will be able to rejoin us at some point this season and continue his improvement and development as an outstanding player.”

A five-star freshman, Trier had a bit of a rough start to the season, but in recent weeks he had come on strong, scoring at least 20 points in three of Arizona’s last four games. He’s currently Arizona’s leading scorer and is by far their most dangerous one-on-one playmaker, one of the only guys on the roster that can be counted on to create their own shot. Losing him is a massive blow for a team that already has relatively limited talent.

It’s also worth noting here that Arizona had one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, landing three five-star perimeter players. Trier has a broken hand, Ray Smith tore his ACL and Justin Simon is the ninth-man on the roster right now.