It was Jan. 12. Arizona had just defeated Arizona State at home. Lauri Markkanen had scored 30 points in 30 minutes.
Markkanen concluded an interview session with the media and as he was walking out of the room at McKale Center, was heard to utter, “Savage life … savage life.”
The phrase had already become a “thing” with the Arizona Wildcats basketball team, but it kind of went viral from there and now it might as well be the subtitle to the 2016-17 season. It marks the players’ speech, their hashtags, the way they want to play … and it all started with freshman wing Rawle Alkins.
He’s been saying it since high school.
“It was in my sophomore year, playing basketball, you know, we were savages,” Alkins said after Arizona defeated Oregon 83-80 in the Pac-12 tournament championship game in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
“So, I just said ‘Savage life’ and then I used to just hashtag it on all my Instagram pictures. I loved the way it looked, and then Lauri started to use it. …
“Everyone started saying it. That was a great moment for us. I came in here saying ‘Savage life’ and then Lauri started saying it, then Dusan (Ristic), then Keanu (Pinder) and then Kadeem (Allen). It starts to become a trend. …
“The funny thing is, they don’t really know what it means. Lauri, he only says it because I say it. He doesn’t know what it means.”
So, Lauri, what does the phrase mean to you?
“Honestly,” he said with a big grin, sitting close to Alkins in the locker room, “I don’t know.”
“I think if you would look at the definition in the dictionary of savage, it would say … I think just ‘beast,'” Alkins said. “I always take that approach on the court. You know, you gotta be the tougher guys on the court.”
Markkenen chipped in, “It’s a movement.”
Added Alkins: “It’s a movement. Join the movement.”
You can find #savagelife scattered throughout the Wildcats’ social media, and even sometimes as their “location,” they’ll put SavageLand.
Arizona has been playing hard and tough as it enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed. The Cats open Thursday against No. 15 seed North Dakota in a West Region game in Salt Lake City, Utah.
You want an example of what #SavageLife means? Alkins points to the end of the Arizona’s victory against UCLA in the conference tournament semifinal, when coach Sean Miller called a timeout with 0.9 seconds left as payback for the Bruins’ last-second timeout in a victory at McKale Center two weeks earlier.
“After we beat UCLA, we called that timeout — that’s some Savage Life stuff right there,” Alkins said. “Everything possible that you can think of — beast mode or kind of like aggressive — you think Savage Life.”