Arizona Athletics

The Wildcats got Loose in the Palouse – win big

It was near perfection for Sean Miller and his University of Arizona basketball team on Wednesday night.

Arizona was beyond belief from beyond the 3-point line.

It was stellar on the offensive end, shooting 61 percent from the floor.

Its best players were near perfect in shooting and executing with Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton scoring 25 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Trier had 24 points.

And Rawle Alkins returned to have a game to remember after missing his last two with foot soreness. He finished with 16 points.

Arizona’s Rawle Alkins drives to the basket vs. WSU. (Photo courtesy Arizona Atletics)

“Rawle gave us a great lift,” Miller said. “He’s practiced twice in two days and for him to come out with that type of confidence says a lot.”

And, of course, it was helped by perhaps the worst team in the Pac-12 Conference in Washington State, a 100-72 loser to the Wildcats in Pullman, Wash.

It was Arizona’s easiest and yet more impressive win – by margin – all season. After it was tied 20-20, Arizona put on an offensive blitz not seen this season by UA.

In the game, Arizona went on two major runs – one of 25-2 and another of 20-2.

Arizona was clearly loose in the Palouse.

It was so good for Arizona and Alkins that after he hit one of his four 3-pointers Alkins backpedaled, shrugged his shoulder and smiled. He went 4 for 4 from the arc as did Trier, leading the team to a 10 for 17 night from beyond the arc.

“We were,” said Sean Miller when asked if the team was dialed in before the game on his radio show. “It says a lot about our team when we left (Tucson) that this was a big week for us. It’s the turning point (of the Pac-12 schedule) and the trip is always difficult.”

At least Wednesday wasn’t. It was like a walk in the northwest trees under the lights. Arizona ran in, ran out and eventually stayed safe.

Trier and Ayton combined to shoot 19 of 21 from the floor.

“There aren’t too many games when you see that,” Miller said.

The only thing lacking – which would have really made it perfect – was UA was only 12 of 22 from the free throw line.

“If we make our free throws that might have been our best offensive game in the Pac-12 in many, many seasons,” Miller said.
It was still good enough to give UA a 9-1 record in conference play, keeping it atop the conference. It is now 19-4 overall. It has won seven straight games and 16 of its last 17.

Perhaps more importantly Arizona’s bench – much maligned this season – combined for more than 30 points, although 16 came from usual starter Alkins. And, well, a bad team in WSU.

“All those guys did a good job tonight,” Miller said of the bench. “It gives us quality depth where we can play through foul trouble and fatigue.”

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