No Kadeem Allen? No problem. No Dusan Ristic (for a half)? No problem. Washington State? Duh, no problem.
Arizona played its best basketball game in the last five games to easily get by Washington State 78-59 in Pullman, Wash., on Thursday night.
They did it behind a slew of players that had run hot and cold all season or more recently had run more cold than hot.
Good for Arizona as it stays atop the Pac-12 Conference at 12-1 and moves to 24-3 overall.
What else is there to say other than Arizona got in, got out and is now on the way to Washington for what could be a season sweep of the Washington schools?
Still, here are three top things from Thursday’s game:
IFO sighting: Indentified Finnish Object
For a few games now, Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen had been in a mini slump or at least one considered to be one given his great early season play. Ok, so he went just 1 for 4 from the 3-point line, but he went 6 for 9 from inside the arc. Arizona went to him early and often, establishing his confidence early. It was exactly what he needed as well as Arizona.
Arizona coach Sean Miller said Markkanen made up his mind earlier this week to play well. Arizona did its part by going to him, but “you can’t help anyone who doesn’t start with the intent of helping themselves. We’ve been on him to impose his size around the basket” Miller said on his postgame radio show.
Miller said the beginning of the second started Arizona off to the win, although it looked pretty good in the first half.
He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.
“Lauri has been off the map recently and to his credit you get that back by what you do very day and not this magic wand where (you think) the next game I will be fine,” said Miller in a postgame interview on FS1. “This process has been great. We’ve talked to him and one of the things he did was establish him from the two point (area).”
He went 6 for 9 from inside the arc.
PJC was A-OK.
Not a bad way to end the half. PJC has 11 first-half points. pic.twitter.com/D1m1lknXOR
Junior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright had a career-high 20 points filling in as a starter for Allen, who went out earlier this week with a dislocated right pinky. In fact, PJC may have been the player of the game for UA. He was everywhere and did a lot.
Miller said it may have been Parker’s best game as an Arizona player. He added three assists and four steals. He went 5 for 7 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point line.
“He deserves a lot of credit,” Miller said. “It was great to see him step up. We needed him. We challenged him with Kadeem got hurt in practice. It was great to see him play with the confidence he did.”
Miller said he was expecting a performance like this at some point given that Parker’s ankle injury is in the distant past and he had been shooting the ball well in practice. He’s made 9 of the last 14 3-pointers he’s taken in games as well.
What can’t you say about Rawle Alkins? He does everything well with few issues. On Thursday he had 13 points and six rebounds.
“He was great and when we needed a really good pass he made them,” Miller said.
Miller said in the second half Alkins made back-to-back-to-back great plays to help UA keep a big lead. Only one involved a shot.
“He’s an unsung hero in many ways because he’s been the constant,” Miller said on the radio show. “He hasn’t gone down (with an injury).”
Oh yea, those. Big man Dusan Ristic suffered an ankle sprain in the first half and didn’t return. Miller said it’s not clear if he’ll play on Saturday. Allen might also be out for Saturday’s game with that injured pinky. But there is a possibility he could play.