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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ristic leads Arizona over UNLV 82-70

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Tyler Baker

Arizona center Dusan Ristic shoots over UNLV forward Ben Carter. The Wildcats went onto defeat the Rebels 82-70 behind a career-high performance from Dusan Ristic. 

After the Arizona football team gave fans plenty to cheer about earlier this afternoon, the UA men’s basketball team took their turn at an important game on Saturday.

The Wildcats defeated the UNLV Rebels 82-70 Saturday afternoon in McKale Center for their 46th consecutive home victory.

Dusan Ristic led all scorers with 20 points, 16 of which he scored in the first half. Arizona had five players reach double figures tonight as Ryan Anderson added 17, Allonzo Trier and Kadeem Allen each had 15 and Gabe York added 11.

“I think I did a pretty good job in the first half,” Ristic said. “My teammates threw me the ball inside and I did some things that I do every day.”

Ristic had a huge game for the Wildcats, as he shot 6-8 from the field including a three pointer, and 7-8 at the line with two rebounds, two blocks and two assists.

“Dusan broke out in a way that we haven’t seen from him,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “He’s very coachable and very passionate about doing things the right way. Dusan was given more and he’s earned more and he’s blossoming. ”

Almost a year ago today, a then-undefeated Arizona traveled to Las Vegas where they were upset by the Rebels 71-67.

This game was another tough test for the Wildcats. Sitting in a comfortable 50-40 lead in the second half, the Rebels stormed back with an 11-4 run that brought them within three points. However, after a timeout, Kadeem Allen got a huge block for Arizona and Ristic scored giving their Wildcats their momentum back.

UNLV never quit though and brought the game back within four, 69-65, after going on a 9-0 run. 

However, with just over two minutes to play, Allen scored on a basket interference and York made a three-point play to give the Wildcats a nine-point lead. After another UNLV push, the Wildcats got another bucket from Allen and some free throws from York and Anderson solidified the Wildcat’s (11-1) lead over the Rebels (8-4).

“We responded,” Miller said. “I thought they were the tougher, harder playing team for a point in the second half, but we did well to fight them off. Kadeem Allen deserves a lot of credit for that.”

As per usual for these Wildcats, they performed better defensively in the second half. They held the Rebels to 34 percent shooting in the second half as well as 22 percent from three for the game. The Rebels only scored five points through a seven minute stretch midway through the second half.

Arizona struggled during the second half offensively, committing 14 turnovers in the half as well as shooting only 33 percent from deep. Arizona became stagnant multiple times allowing UNLV to keep climbing back into the game.

The Wildcats dominated UNLV in terms of free throws, shooting 29-39 from the line compared to the Rebels 10-14.

Both teams started off the game with back and forth scoring, with UNLV leading 13-12 after the first five minutes of play. Ristic has continued to play well in his new starting role for the injured Kaleb Tarczewski, scoring eight of Arizona’s first 12 points.

“He’s getting a chance to show what he does every day,” Anderson said about Ristic. “He’s one of our hardest workers. His skill around the basket is something you can’t really teach.”

Not too far into the first half, UNLV freshman forward Stephen Zimmerman left the game with an apparent leg injury. He came back out in the second half with an ice pack but never played. Zimmerman is a projected lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

“He hurt himself in practice on Thursday when he took a knee to the thigh and was not able to participate fully yesterday,” UNLV head coach Dave Rich said. “He felt better today, but aggravated it in the first half and couldn’t return. The only update I got was that he couldn’t return to action.”

After trailing 18-14, Arizona got hot again following some great play from Ristic. He found Tollefsen for an alley-oop layup and on the next possession knocked down a three. Arizona regained the lead on an alley-oop from Gabe York to Ryan Anderson. A Kadeem Allen layup gave Arizona a 30-28 lead and the Wildcats never trailed again.

The Wildcats will take on Long Beach State next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at McKale Center.

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