Career night from Jemarl Baker Jr. helps Arizona blow past NAU


Nathanial Stenchever

Jemarl Baker Jr., a redshirt junior on the University of Arizona’s men’s basketball team, drives the hoop and takes a contested layup over a Northern Arizona player in the McKale Memorial Center, Monday, Dec 7, 2020.

Ryan Wohl

The Arizona Wildcats defeated the NAU Lumberjacks by a score of 96-53. From the very start of this game, it was over and we knew it wasn’t going to be a close game as the Wildcats started on a 15-0 run. Even though this game was against a low division-one team, there were a ton of positives to take out of this team’s performance.

Jemarl Baker Jr. had a career-high in scoring and led the Wildcats with 33 points (12-16 FG and 7-9 3FG) to go along with three steals and three rebounds. This was Baker’s best game as a Wildcat so far throughout his first year and a half in the program. After only scoring a combined 12 points in his first two games this season, he was overdue for a big performance.

“This is definitely the most points that I’ve had in a while,” Baker said. “They want me to be aggressive and to continue to take my shots, work hard and try to get better every day. I go out there and compete to win every game.”

“[Baker], for the year and a half he has been here, has been as good as a consistent shooter that we have had,” head coach Sean Miller said.

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Arizona was 13-22 on three-point shots (59%) but the stellar shooting performance did not transfer to the charity stripe as they shot 19-31 (61.3%) as a team from the free-throw line.

Sophomore Christian Koloko hasn’t had as many flashy moments so far in the Wildcats’ first three games of the season as he showed last year. Tonight, he finished with one point, four rebounds and four blocks in 19 minutes of action. Kokolo isn’t known as a primary scorer but he has only scored a combined 10 points in Arizona’s first three games of the season.

“[Koloko] played better tonight than the first two games,” Miller said. “He needs game experience and as he continues to play he will improve.”

Baker’s electric performance overshadowed Jordan Brown’s night as he quietly put up 17 points and 11 rebounds for his second career double-double.

Arizona still has some work to do with their foul (22) and turnover (12) problems but game-by-game they look to improve every time they step on the floor.

The Wildcats face off against CSU Bakersfield at home on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. MST and then UTEP at 4 p.m. MST on Saturday, Dec. 12.

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