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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 12 Arizona defeats Northwestern State 61-42

Rebecca Noble
Arizona guard Kadeem Allen (5) brings home an uncontested basket during Arizona’s 61-42 win over NSU at McKale Center on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015.

In a deliberately slow-paced affair, Arizona men’s basketball lumbered its way to a 61-42 home victory over Northwestern State on Sunday night without forward Ryan Anderson.

Anderson, who suffered an ankle sprain in practice last week and appeared to reinjure it against Boise State on Thursday, watched from the bench as his teammates struggled to find much offensive rhythm against the Demons.

“We expected Northwestern State to push the ball,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “They tended to play in a different way, so we had to adjust to it. I think it made the game feel a bit funny.”

Nonetheless, the No. 12 Wildcats managed to pull out their 42nd straight McKale Center victory behind 18 points from Gabe York and another 10 from Allonzo Trier, who made his first start of the season.

Dusan Ristic pitched in with nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds for a near double-double.

York, Trier and Ristic combined to score over 60 percent of Arizona’s points as the Wildcats collectively shot a lowly 37 percent from the field.

Miller blamed the poor scoring night on Northwestern’s change of tempo — the Demons entered the night as one of college basketball’s highest scoring teams — as well as Anderson’s injury.

The 6-foot-9 senior is expected to return for the Wildcats’ next game.

“When you have a player like that who doesn’t play, very few teams will look the same,” Miller said. “Tonight, there were a number of areas that I certainly think he could have helped us with.”

Arizona turned to the perimeter to help make up for Anderson’s absence, but the Wildcats connected on only 5-of-22 attempts from outside the arc. York made four of Arizona’s 3s.

After a sluggish first 20 minutes, the Wildcats promptly started the second half with a four minute scoring drought that allowed Northwestern to close the lead to 10 points with 13:42 to go.

The Wildcats progressively expanded the lead as the second half went on, but they never hit a true groove on the offensive side.

A York 3-pointer with six minutes to go finally gave Arizona a comfortable 16 point margin. Miller soon began entering reserves. York led Arizona in scoring for the second straight game.

“Producing at a high level every game is what I am trying to do, whether it be scoring, passing, or getting rebounds,” York said. “There are still a lot of things I have to do better, but I’m a very confident person.”

York and his teammates could have put the Demons away quickly, when Northwestern State went on an early six-minute scoring drought in the first half.

However, the Wildcats could not take advantage, as they missed on four of their first 16 shots.

Arizona finally heated up a bit around the midway point of the half, highlighted by a 3-pointer from York to put the Wildcats up 23-10 lead with 8:34 to go. The scoring margin stayed about the same through halftime.

The Wildcats did play perhaps their best defensive game of the season by holding to Northwestern State to 36 percent shooting. Zeek Woodley led the Demons with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Arizona out-rebounded Northwestern 39-30 and also forced the Southland Conference opponent into 18 turnovers. The Wildcats just couldn’t capitalize to the ability Miller would have liked.

“There are always games like this and we have a lot to look forward to,” Miller said. “It’s about moving forward.”

Arizona now has a couple days off before it heads to Fullerton, California for the DirecTV Wooden Legacy. The Wildcats open the tournament Thursday evening against Santa Clara.

Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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