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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona Wildcats notebook: In the zone, Dusan rises, tempo slows

Steven Spooner
Arizona guard Kadeem Allen (5) rebounds the ball against UC Irvine during the Wildcat’s 79-57 victory on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in McKale Center.

The Arizona Wildcats beat University of California, Irvine on Tuesday night to improve their record to 7-2 on the season before heading out to Columbia, Missouri for a contest on Saturday versus the Missouri Tigers. Before then, here are some notes about the game versus the Anteaters.

Markkanen in the zone

True freshman Lauri Markkanen has been good, but tonight, he gave fans a glimpse of just how good he can be. Against a 2-3 zone, Markkanen slowly started to figure out where the openings were and when to be aggressive.

On top of that, he realized that holding the ball to see how open he was wasn’t working, so he shot when he thought he was going to be open. This aggressiveness could be the difference in making him a 15-19 point scorer to a 25-30 machine.

Kobi sets it up

Although he’s not the primary ball handler, it will be interesting to see what Kobi Simmons’ role will be should Allonzo Trier come back. Despite playing at a slower tempo against UC Irvine, Simmons showed his vision and ball movement in transition may be only rivaled by Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

If you add in Simmons’ athleticism, he has the potential to take the Wildcats to another level when they choose to speed up the tempo. He could be lethal if he can find his shooting touch once again after he struggled from the field, shooting 2-for-8 on the night.

Ristic sighting

Dusan Ristic, perhaps Arizona’s most critiqued player, came through and scored at will late in the first half against UC Irvine to the tune of a season-high 18 points. He was able to take advantage of the Anteater zone and scored 14 points in the first half to enable the rest of his teammates wider lanes and inevitably more outside shooting success as a team.

The Wildcats shot 5-of-11 from downtown in the second half, largely because of the dominant inside performance by Ristic.

Tempo comes down

Prior to this season, Arizona seemed to have the depth necessary to run on teams at will. Fast-forward to today and the Wildcats, now down to seven scholarship players, slowed the game down considerably against UC Irvine. Despite the slow tempo, several Wildcats were able to score in double figures.

The team was efficient with the ball, especially in the first half, turning the ball over only four times.

The Trier Plan

Pac-12 Conference analyst Don MacLean made some comments concerning Trier during Tuesday night’s broadcast in relation to his possible return.

MacLean said that the Wildcats are doing their best to keep the same plan because if he does return, the team would have to re-adjust and it would slow the players’ progress.

It has taken a considerable amount of time for the team to find their way, especially with three freshman starting; slowing down would be catastrophic in Pac-12 play should Trier return.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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