Arizona Basketball

Three things about the Arizona Wildcats: All Good Stuff

The Arizona Wildcats were more athletic and out-everythinged visiting Sacred Heart on Friday night. It wasn’t pretty for the visitors.

But Arizona was able to work on November needs (playing time for players and reserves, stay away from injuries and get recovering Kadeem Allen some time). Arizona was the easy 95-65 winner at McKale Center.

Six players scored in double figures with Lauri Markkanen scoring 22 points. Rawle Alkins added 18 and Kobi Simmons added 14. Markannen did it with relative ease. Dusan Ristic had his third double-double of his career with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Here are three things from Friday night’s blowout:

Bookend guards/forwards

What impressed me just the same was the play of Alkins and Simmons. Arizona has had strong combos in the past but they kind of remind me of Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala back in 2003. Bookend players who play similar and have the same outstanding athletic ability.

“Both are really talented players,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “They’ve done a great job for us early on. They are learning and there is a lot of things especially defense where they can improve. In fairness to them we are asking them to guard the other team’s best players right now.”

To their benefit, the two (and others) are getting valuable experience. There’s a lot of upside.

PJC handling the back court well

Arizona will definitely rely on junior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright with the ball. How many minutes he plays will be determined by the health of Allen and the possible return of Allonzo Trier. But he’s averaging more than 30 minutes a game. He played 30 on Friday after playing 34 on Monday against Cal State Bakersfield.

How does he think he’s handled it?

“I’m just trying to do my job,” he said. “I evaluate my play on getting others involved and controlling the game, not taking plays off and doing everything coach asks of me.”

PJC had 11 points, four assists and no turnovers. Miller said PJC can still do things better but he’s been pleased.

PJC said he feels he’s done pretty well this season so far. Ristic agreed.

As for the minutes, he knows it’s a lot of minutes but Miller keeps telling him “to keep pushing the pace and give everything I have. When I’m playing up tempo and fast I’m getting guys like Dusan and Lauri, Kob and Rawle good shots and that’s what I try to do.”

Free throws will be key

If the first three games are any indication, it appears Arizona will be pretty good from the free throw line. And it will get there often. Arizona is 69 of 88 for 78.4 percent.

It’s all about being aggressive.

“Not only getting there is important,” Miller said of the free throws. “But we make them.”

It has helped that Markkanen has hit 18 of 19 free throws.

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