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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats dominate, falter late but hold on against Texas A&M

Alex McIntyre
Arizona center Dusan Ristic (14) snags a rebound against UC Irvine in McKale Center on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The Wildcats beat the Anteaters 79-57.

HOUSTON, TX — Arizona showed it’s dominance and played it’s best game of the season until Texas A&M went on a 18-0 run and nearly pulled off an incredible comeback at the Lone Star Shootout in Houston, Saturday.

Rawle Alkins went to the line with Arizona up by only two facing a one-and-one. He hit both and the Aggies weren’t able to score again resulting in a Wildcats win to improve their record to 10-2 on the season. Shades of 2005 gone by the wayside.

“Anything that needed to go wrong in that three minutes,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “DJ Hogg made a big three … they got the ball to Tyler Davis, they’re a good team.”

The Arizona Wildcats came into the game having to focus on Texas A&M’s big man Tyler Davis, but it was Dusan Ristic who proved to be the better man in the first half hitting on eight for 12 shooting contributing 18 points and hauling in five rebounds. However, Davis would dominate the last five minutes and ended up with 23 points in the game.

“It’s hard because if you take the trap off then we wouldn’t have had an answer against Tyler Davis,” Miller said. 

Miller said that late in the game fatigue set in and was the main cause of delayed trapping giving A&M free looks at the basket and enabled them to go on their run.

Ristic dominated inside thanks to crafty post play and nice passing from his teammates who were faced with another zone defense, but this time the Wildcats were as prepared as they have been all year against the zone shooting 14-for-29 in the first half and at a 44 percent clip for the game.

In the last 2:24 of the first half Arizona went on a 9-0 run to extend a four point lead to 13 and lead the Aggies 41-28 going into the break. The solid play continued as the Wildcats extended their lead to as much as 22 in the second half.

The Wildcats had four players in double figures to lead the way as Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins and Lauri Markkanen all joined Ristic with over 12 points.

“For a large portion of the game that was our best effort,” Miller said. “We didn’t play as a team [late in the game] nearly well enough and when you don’t and you play against a good team they can make a run.”

Quietly Alkins had as solid a game overall as anyone for the Wildcats with 12 points, five rebounds and six assists, but it was his free throws at the end of the game that helped Arizona overcome a wave of momentum that was unyielding by A&M.

“I looked over at coach after I got fouled and he just looked at me happy and smiling like ‘you got this’,” Alkins said. “The first one went in kind of like a toilet bowl, luckily it went in.”

Arizona, who struggled with turnovers against Grand Canyon Wednesday, only turned the ball over three times and had nine assists in the first half. The Wildcats were also able to force fouls from Texas A&M and turn those fouls into a 11-for-12 free throw shooting clip at the half. The second half was much of the same until the last three minutes which saw the Wildcats lose the ball several times resulting in scores for the Aggies.

The win marks the Wildcats third big five non-conference win of the season as they move on to face New Mexico at home on Tuesday.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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