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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ayton shines, but ‘Cats will need work to figure out chemistry in exhibition win over Eastern New Mexico

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The Arizona Wildcats beat the Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds with a final score of 91-63. 

Led by freshman center Deandre Ayton, the Arizona Wildcats put on an offensive display in Wednesday’s exhibition game against Eastern New Mexico despite missing several key players.

From the opening tip Deandre Ayton set the tone on offense for the Wildcats. Ayton exploded to the rim with two fast break dunks in the first few minutes of the game. He looked very comfortable with the ball and had 31 points on 13-for-16 shooting. Most of his points came around the rim as the Greyhounds had no semblance of an answer for him. 

“Deandre’s performance speaks for itself,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “His intelligence, his hands and his awareness are something that you don’t see often for a young big guy like him. He was obviously terrific.” 

Deandre Ayton dunks early on in the Arizona-Eastern New Mexico University exhibition game on Wednesday, November 1. Ayton finished the second half with 14 points, making 7 of 8 field goals.
Deandre Ayton dunks early on in the Arizona-Eastern New Mexico University exhibition game on Wednesday, November 1. Ayton finished the second half with 14 points, making 7 of 8 field goals.

Ayton looked like he may have been dealing with some cramps late in the second half as he doubled over clutching the back of his right leg. After the game Ayton said he was fine and it was no issue.

Overall the shorthanded Wildcats shot the ball well and had no trouble scoring on the noticeably smaller Greyhounds. The Wildcats shot 61 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three-point range.  

Parker Jackson-Cartwright did not play in the game due to a sprained ankle earlier last week and Dylan Smith was suspended for violating team rules. Jackson-Cartwright looks to return on Sunday for Arizona’s final exhibition game against Chico State, although Smith will not return until after Arizona’s home opener against Northern Arizona University. 

The Wildcats looked sloppy on defense for the first few minutes of the game, letting the Greyhounds quickly score an easy eight points off of offensive rebounds. In the second half they doubled down defensively and held ENMU to 63 points on 36 percent shooting. Arizona used it size and length to minimize the deep ball from the smaller Greyhounds, who shot just 23 percent from beyond the arch. However, the Wildcats only out-rebounded them 36 to 32, Miller called rebounding the achilles heel for the Wildcats all night. 

“At times we broke down, but that’s what you do on November 1st when you have that many young players out there,” Miller said. 

Arizona’s leading scorer last season, Allonzo Trier, had a quiet game with 10 points, seven of them coming in the last 10 minutes of the game. Trier averaged 17 points per game last year and was announced as a ESPN preseason All-American this year. Trier helped play point guard for Miller in the second half with Alex Barcello. Barcello played 33 minutes and had 7 points and 2 assists. Barcello looks to be a valuable backup for Miller to use when Jackson-Cartwright is not in the game. 

Arizona's Alex Barcello tries to pass the ball behind an ENMU defender. Barcello ended the night with 7 points.
Arizona’s Alex Barcello tries to pass the ball behind an ENMU defender. Barcello ended the night with 7 points.

Emmanuel Akot stood out on the offensive end with 10 points on an impressive 4-for-5 from the floor. He improved on what he did in the Red-Blue game, where he went 0-for-6 in 24 minutes. He also led the team in assists with six. 

“We need him to take the open shots when he’s given those, it was great to see him step into them with confidence,” Miller said. 

Miller also had high praise for Brandon Randolph, who couldn’t hit a shot until late in the first half, and struggled from deep, going 0-for-7. He found his shot inside the paint as the game went on and finished with 14 points. Miller said it shows how talented he is to change his approach during the game and find what was working for him. Randolph looks like he could be a key piece to the Wildcats roster early on in the season while Rawle Alkins is out with a broken foot. 

Arizona's Brandon Randolph muscles his way past an ENMU defender. Randolph had 14 points in the game.
Arizona’s Brandon Randolph muscles his way past an ENMU defender. Randolph had 14 points in the game.

Arizona plays its final exhibition game at home against Chico State on Sunday Nov. 5. 


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