Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats show balance, unselfish play in rout of Missouri



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Arizona coach Sean Miller made the comment after the Wildcats’ 88-52 win over Missouri on Sunday night that his team “played with great effort and we played unselfish”.

That’s what a coach should expect from his team every game, but the Wildcats are a work in progress and will continue to be that way into the start of the Pac-12 season.

Arizona is adapting to life without T.J. McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson and Brandon Ashley.

Miller has mixed and matched his starting lineup six times in the first 10 games.

Kaleb Tarczewski has missed half of those games now with a foot injury. Elliott Pitts sat on the bench tonight in street clothes for the second consecutive game because of a personal issue.

Overcoming its disjointed start of the season, Arizona put together two good halves on both ends against Missouri, which was only down by seven points with seven minutes remaining at undefeated Xavier earlier this season.

Trier and York are becoming the smaller version of Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson with the same result: Creating matchup problems for opponents.

Having all of Miller’s scholarship players, nine of them, reach double-figure minutes and play harmoniously together from Ryan Anderson to Chance Comanche without egos in the way and their direction never straying off track, that’s teamwork.

Six of Arizona’s players scored in double figures while holding Missouri’s top scorer in the game, Namon Wright, to only nine points. That sums up Miller’s “unselfish” comment.

Arizona struggled with its turnovers, finishing with 15, but the Wildcats produced a season-high 20 assists on 31 field goals made. Every starter had at least one assist for the second consecutive game.

Against Fresno State and Missouri, the Wildcats produced 37 assists. The offense is finally clicking and it coincides with freshman wing Allonzo Trier becoming the Wildcats’ go-to player and finisher from the perimeter.

A couple of Sundays ago, Trier came off the bench against Boise State at Anaheim after a non-descript five-point performance against Providence two nights before in the Wildcats’ lone loss of the season.

Trier went 5-of-6 from the field for 13 points in the win over the Broncos.

He started against Gonzaga and made 6 of 9 shots for 14 points in the upset win on the road.

He started again against Fresno State and made 8-of-11 shots from the field and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line to finish with 27 points.

His third consecutive start tonight ended with him making 5-of-7 shots from the field and finishing with 15 points.

In the last four games, when Arizona has played its best basketball, Trier has made 24 of his 33 attempts (72.7 percent) and averaged 17.3 points.

That kind of production has made Gabe York dangerous because of the defense Trier can attract. York, who has scored in double figures in all 10 games this season, has averaged 15.3 points in his last three games while shooting 16-of-29 (55.2 percent) from the field.

Trier and York are becoming the smaller version of Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson with the same result: Creating matchup problems for opponents.

With an unclogged lane of defenders because of how Trier and York are stretching the floor, Anderson and Dusan Ristic are thriving. Comanche had 10 rebounds in 13 minutes tonight because of spacing and hustling to the right spot.

Tollefsen, who is getting closer and closer to finding his niche on the team, finished with a team-high 17 points. Justin Simon, who also should develop into a factor by late in the Pac-12 season, had 10 points and three steals in 16 minutes.

Point guards Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright struggled from the field (1 of 10) but combined for nine assists with four turnovers.

If Miller could bottle what Arizona showed with its rotation tonight, from top to bottom, he would sip on it through March.


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:

PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers). MIN: Minutes played overall. PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played).

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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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