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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona notebook: Rawle Alkins’ perfection; Allonzo Trier’s shoe collection; Aussie ball

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Simon Asher

Arizona’s Rawle Alkins slam dunks early on in the Arizona-North Dakota game on Thursday, March 16. 

SALT LAKE CITY — Finally, after just over an hour of waiting for Saint Mary’s to beat Virginia Commonwealth, Arizona took the floor and easily took down No. 15 seed North Dakota 100-82. The game itself felt like the typical “Pac-12 after dark” game, but the Wildcats took care of business on a memorable opening day to the NCAA Tournament.

Second-half eggshells:

The Wildcats went into halftime ahead by 16, but NDU clawed its way back into the game and cut the lead down to as little as seven points.

RELATED: Wildcats take care ofbusiness, blow by Fighting Hawks in first round

RELATED: St. Mary’s holds off VCU to set up matchup with Arizona

“We got a little complacent. Give them credit, they’re a good team,” junior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright said. “Anybody is capable in the tournament.”

The Wildcats knew North Dakota was capable, because it’s March and what better way to end the first day of March Madness than to watch a No. 2 seed blow a 15-point lead and lose to a school that’s never been to the NCAA Tournament as a Division-I program.

Keepin’ it 100:

The Wildcats scored 100 points for the first time this season and they haven’t scored more than 100 points since their quadruple overtime loss at USC last season.

Arizona only made four three-pointers against the Fighting Hawks, but the ‘Cats went 24-for-28 from the free throw line (86 percent) and outscored them by 20 points in the paint. Offensively, the Wildcats were fundamentally sound all-around and every starter scored in double-figures.

Mr. Perfect: 

In 29 minutes, it’s difficult to be perfect let alone 40 minutes. For Arizona guard and small forward Rawle Alkins, he does it with ease. Alkins finished Thursday scoring 20 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field, 2-for-2 from three-point range, 2-for-2 from the free throw line.

“This is our first feeling of the NCAA Tournament and for me, Lauri [Markkanen] and Kobi [Simmons], we just wanted show that we belong here,” Alkins said.

Alkins also collected four rebounds, five assists and recorded zero turnovers. If he wants to show that the ‘Cats belong here, then mission accomplished.

Day of firsts:

The Vivint Smart Home Arena was a palace of history for an afternoon. No. 8 Northwestern played in its first NCAA Tournament in school history and won a nail-biting game against No. 9 Vanderbilt to also give the Wildcats their first tournament victory. There are more alumni from NU working for ESPN than playing in the NBA and for a college that competes with opposing school’s fan bases and professional teams, the city of Chicago is temporarily purple. 

From Arizona’s standpoint, Allonzo Trier won his first NCAA Tournament game. Last season against Wichita State in the opening round, Trier scored 10 points, but also committed four turnovers. Thursday, he scored 18 points and turned the ball over one time with six rebounds.

Allonzo Trier’s shoes:

When Trier practiced Wednesday, he came out in purple and yellow Kobe Bryant shoes, which was even noticed by one of the top shoe distribution websites Sole Collector. 



Trier spoke about his shoe collection after Arizona’s win and when asked about how many pairs of shoes he owns, he smirked and thought about it for a few seconds.

Try doubling the team’s final score Thursday. And for his storage space for the kicks, try multiple locations around the Trier residence as in a huge closet and a layout made for cars.

“On campus it’s about 200,” Trier said. “I have a walk-in closet and a garage so I put ‘em away in a few different places.”

For Trier, there’s no science when it comes to picking out shoes, just his gut instinct.

“Style or who it is like what athlete or player it is,” Trier said. “I just have a weird eye so whatever grabs my attention, I’ll grab it.”

The force of the Gaels:

Arizona will now turn to Saint Mary’s who almost blew a 15-point lead to VCU, but the Gaels turned up a notch similar to the Wildcats in the second half.

“They’re extremely physical, they’re extremely tough. They don’t beat themselves and they have an extremely great coach,” junior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright said. “It’s not his first go-around so they’re going to come out really prepared and play hard. We got to be a little more locked in.”

The Gaels move the ball around the perimeter quickly as if it’s hot potato. SMC posted 13 assists while VCU only had six. However, constant ball movement can result in turnovers and Saint Mary’s committed 15 turnovers while the Rams only had nine turnovers. So even though SMC made mistakes, the Gaels still controlled the game and sealed a win over an athletic VCU squad.

Australian connection:

Saint Mary’s frontcourt is led by 6-foot-11 center Jock Landale who posted 18 points and 13 rebounds against VCU. Landale is from Australia, which is a likely story considering Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova both went to SMC so the land down under is a pipeline for the Gaels especially in recent history. 

Landale was teammates with Keanu Pinder in China for the Australian U-19 team in 2013 when they prepared for the FIBA World Championships. Pinder said since then, Landale’s game has grown.

“He’s improved a lot. He rebounds well and blocks shots and scores the ball a lot,” Pinder said.

Chances are we won’t see a one-on-one matchup between the two, but four years later playing ball halfway across the world and coming back to a full circle in the NCAA Tournament, the basketball gods make it feel like a small world.

Up Next:

Second-seeded Arizona and No. 7 St. Mary’s will play Saturday following the matchup between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 8 Northwestern on CBS. 


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