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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona once again starts slow, still able to hold on against Stanford Cardinal

Simon Asher

UA’s Allonzo Trier shoots over a Stanford player on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

No. 9 Arizona once again allowed a lesser opponent to compete with them, but were once again able to come away with a victory. The Wildcats defeated the Stanford Cardinal 74-67 and moved to 22-3 (11-1 Pac-12). Sophomore Allonzo Trier led Arizona with 22 points and three assists.

A tentative possession against zone defense, a turnover and a foul summed up Arizona’s first sequence of possessions, and early on the Wildcats picked up right where they left off against the Oregon Ducks. When Arizona head coach Sean Miller was asked if his team still had the Ducks on the brain, he was quick to answer.

“No,” Miller said. “Maybe for you [media], not for these guys. They forgot about that. We lost, it was one game.”

The Wildcats did not score until Trier hit a jump shot with 16:34 to go in the first half, Arizona trailed 9-2.

Trier made his first start of the season and Miller could not have made the move at a better time. Trier scored the Wildcats’ first five, and eight of their first ten points.

Freshman Kobi Simmons impacted the game after coming from off the bench due to Trier’s return to the starting lineup. Upon entering the game Simmons hit a 3-point shot in the corner to bring the Wildcats to within three points, and he tied the game shortly after. Simmons finished the game with nine points and three assists.

The Cardinal started off the game by attacking the Wildcats’ interior defense and were able to outscore the Wildcats 42-16 in the paint, helping them keep pace with Arizona all night.

The Cardinal continued to play catch up at the beginning of the second half, and the Wildcats struggled to maintain a sizable lead. The Wildcats led by as many as 11 during the opening minutes of the second half, but with seven minutes to go, the Cardinal trailed by just a bucket, 57-55.

Stanford’s Reid Travis dominated the paint on both ends of the floor throughout the game, and finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. The Wildcats’ front court simply had no answer for the junior forward.

With just under five minutes to go the Wildcats had stretched their lead to six points and had the McKale Center faithful on their feet, Travis proceeded to finish a put back tip-in, and get fouled, with 4:36 to go closing the gap to three.

The Cardinal tied the game at 65 with 2:27 to go after Dorian Pickens connected on a 3-point shot from the left wing. Trier responded by getting to the foul line and connecting on both of his free throws, but Stanford answered right away tying the game at 67.

With 1:37 to play, freshman Lauri Markkanen connected on a 3-pointer from the corner, and the Wildcats held on to their lead for the rest of the game.

Markkanen was experiencing his worst game as a freshman before the clutch deep ball. Markkanen was 1-8 from the floor and 1-6 from behind the 3-point line before connecting on the clutch shot. He finished with eight points and three rebounds.

“”I don’t know any player who hasn’t had a streak where they haven’t shot the ball so great,” Trier said. “I think he shoots it so well that when he doesn’t shoot spectacular it’s like the end of the world.”

Miller was happy the Finnish star was able to come up in the clutch, but noted there is plenty that big man can still improve on.

“Tonight was the first time that I felt that his confidence was a little shaken, but making that three down the stretch in the left corner was big,” Miller said, “He has to also has to be able to do some other things. We played him 28 minutes and he had two defensive rebounds. He’s 7 feet, you have to go get the ball.”

Trier made his first start of the season, and he led the Wildcats in minutes with 33. The sophomore is still finding his way back in to sync with the Wildcats according to Miller, but he was able to find his way to the free throw line. Trier scored 12 of his 22 points at the stripe going a perfect 12-12.

“One thing about [Allonzo] is he’s always attacking, he has great confidence in himself,” Miller said.

Next up for Arizona is their final matchup with the California Golden Bears. They host the Bears on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. MST. The game will be aired on ESPN2.

Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter

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