Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats learning lots of lessons and continue to roll

If you don’t learn from a lesson then what’s the point in the lesson? Arizona did that – as expected – on Saturday night in an 82-73 win vs. Colorado in McKale Center.

The Wildcats did, not allowing Colorado to get close enough to make a complete collapse. A month ago it may have been different using the Texas A&M game as an example.

Arizona had a 67-52 lead with 6:27 left saw its lead go to five at 69-64, making it a little scary for onlookers.

Kadeem Allen chases down a loose ball and feeds Lauri Markkanen (background) for a dunk (Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics)

“We did (learn),” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We call on that a lot, just like being ready at the beginning. Against Michigan State we dug a really a big hole and at Cal we did. You can say we’re not perfect. Colorado got off to a great start.”

But then, Arizona found its groove and pulled away … before it found Colorado making a second-half surge. But Arizona regrouped again.

Saturday’s game had a number of elements to it. A bad start, a regroup, a semi-tough ending, some good and not-so-good defense … and a senior who played well.

Here are three things I took away from Saturday night.

Kadeem Allen is Arizona’s rock

He said he knew he’d have a strong game after he hit his first two 3-pointers. He eventually went 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. He finished with 18 points.

It’s all about confidence, he said.

Maybe more importantly, he’s near the end of his career and he sees it all ending soon so he’ll try as hard to make things matter.

“It’s about that time to pick it up,” said Allen, who went into the game averaging 8.9 points. “The team looks to me as a leader and I have to step up to make the plays for the team.”

Allen did a lot. He grabbed five defensive rebounds and hit 9 of 11 free throws. He also had four assists with no turnovers.

“Tonight was about Kadeem Allen,” Miller said. “He was an amazing player. It’s one of the best games I’ve seen a guard play since I’ve been at Arizona.”

Miller raved about the defense Allen played against Derrick White adding that Allen is one of the better defensive guards he’s had since arriving at Arizona eight years ago.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody player better defense against a great opponent more than he did,” Miller said. “He embodies a lot of qualities on this year’s team. Our team feeds off of Kadeem. He doesn’t say much but he lets his play do the talking.”

Miller said as far as seeing the end of Allen’s UA career coming in the next couple of months he figures Allen is making it a “source of pride.”

“Kadeem wants to win; it’s that simple,” Miller said. “He plays for Arizona. He wants to win every game. He focuses and practices. He’s the best practice player from the first day to now. And we have quite a few. He has really stepped up as much as I’ve seen a guy step up to be a great leader.”

Dusan’s sweet shot

Dusan Ristic continues to impress on the offensive end. He went 7 for 15 from the floor and added eight rebounds. The guy is one of Arizona’s key consistent players all of a sudden. In fact, when he misses a shot it’s hard to believe.

“I’m surprised when he misses,” Miller said. “He’s really adept.”

Not all was perfect. Miller kind of laughed at the pass Ristic threw to Parker Jackson-Cartwright that was overthrown. It came two days after Miller raved about the pass Ristic threw for an assist.

“I’ve seen that in my 48 years of being on this planet,” Miller said, jokingly.

A Trier update

Ray Smith, Allonzo Trier and Chance Comanche celebrate on Arizona bench (Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics)

I’d like to say I made you look, but Trier still didn’t return to the lineup on Saturday. All the guessers or speculators have thought this would have been the weekend Trier would have come back to play. After all, it was the halfway point of the season. But to no avail.

That said, it’s my guess (such that it is) that he’ll come back sometime soon … But he’ll be back. It’s also my guess that his suspension isn’t tied to a set date but instead when the NCAA allows it to happen it will happen.

Yes, it’s vague but that’s all that we know. But, more importantly, he’ll be back … soon.

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