He didn’t have the best of games – in fact, he hardly had an impact for most of it – but when he did, Kadeem Allen proved to be the senior leader Sean Miller thinks he can be.
This will be a long road for Arizona such that it is without Allonzo Trier. Who knows when that resolution will happen? Nonetheless, Arizona was able to pull off a nice 65-63 win over Michigan State Friday night in Hawaii.
Here are five things about the game that seemed interesting:
Allen will lead them
Earlier this week, Miller said Allen was “awesome” because of his attitude as well as his ability. He lauded him for wanting to stick around for an extra year after sitting out his first season. “He’s the example of the young guy who has bought in and has worked, sacrificed and is our heart and soul in many ways. He’s earned it.”
Miller said Friday night after Allen hit the game winner in Arizona win over Michigan State he earned the right to take the last shot for the win.
“He’s the guy every coach in the country would love to have,” UA coach Sean Miller told ESPN after the game. “He only cares about one thing … and that’s winning.”
With 7 seconds left, the game was tied.
Then Kadeem Allen changed Arizona's fate vs. MSU with this wild drive: https://t.co/e4KPfc1FL5
— ESPN (@espn) November 12, 2016
It’s very likely he’ll get many more when – and if – it comes down to the final moments.
“His leadership, his experience and his toughness those are all things that will help this team through our long journey,” Miller said this week.
Who will score?
With Trier continuing to be out, it will be up to Lauri Markannen to hit the long-range shot. He hit two big 3-pointers on Friday night. He’s a great guy to have on the perimeter given his size (7-foot) and the mismatches he creates. But he’ll have to try to get more open in the future. At one point, ESPN college announcer Jay Bilas said even though Markkenan is a freshman it might be up to him to take the game over with his ability to hit shots. I totally agree.
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) November 12, 2016
Who will score II?
What freshman Kobi Simmons proved – even if it’s one game – is that he can shoot and that’ll come in handy. He won’t be expected to score 18 a night but Arizona needed every point from him against MSU. In fact, he looked the most poised among UA players in the first half. He kept UA in the game when it was down 17-2.
“Kobe is just beginning to be a really good player,” Miller said. “His first half was outstanding, 15 of our 34 points at half. For being a freshman, he had the most confidence on our team. I think he’s going to continue to learn and grow. He’s just learning how to play the college game.”
College basketball is officially back. https://t.co/eNkBYlAEOc
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 12, 2016
Big men need to be big men
Arizona definitely had the size advantage over the smaller MSU players but when has basketball been about size when it comes to rebounds? It’s about want. MSU held its own vs. the taller Cats. Dusan Ristic and Markkenan will have to be bigger factors on the boards if UA is to succeed more down the road. The two teams tied for rebounds at 34. Arizona can’t let that happen.
He’s got a Chance
Arizona welcomed back Chance Comanche, who sat out UA’s two exhibition games recently. He proved to be needed in that he was aggressive and was able to provide what the other two big men couldn’t. He hit all three of his shots and pulled down four rebounds in 18 minutes of work. If he can get his stats up just a tad, he’d be a big reason why UA succeeds this season. He can provide the defense Ristic cannot. It was good to see him on the court, too.