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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona men’s basketball notebook: Markkanen, Alkins finding grooves early

Alex McIntyre
Arizona guard Rawle Alkins (1) dribbles against CSU Bakersfield in McKale Center on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The Wildcats beat the Roadrunners 78-66.

The Arizona men’s basketball team won in a closer game than most people expected against CSU-Bakersfield on Tuesday night. Here were some of the takeaways from the game.

Lauri Markkanen is a pro

Markkanen’s ability to hit shots from every spot on the floor is amazing, yet simple. He doesn’t do anything other worldly, but he does do everything so great it makes everyone else look average. 

The Finnish freshman led the Wildcats with a career-high 26 points and 8 rebounds on an evening where the team only dressed seven scholarship players.

“He is a great shooter,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “He is one of the best players in college basketball.”

RELATED: Markkanen scores career high in Wildcats’ win over CSU-Bakersfield

Alkins finds groove

Rawle Alkins has struggled shooting the ball this season, but tonight was a breakout game behind the arc. Alkins connected on 4-for-6 3s, including three in a row to begin the game. If he can put together his driving skills, avoid offensive fouls and continue to hit from the outside, it will take this offense to another level.

“When his feet are set it is a great shot for our team,” Miller said. “He only took one bad shot tonight so I like where he is at.”

Lineups, Lineups, Lineups

Miller toyed with a variety of lineups tonight including playing all four big men at one time on the floor with the point guard being Kobi Simmons. It was viewed as more of a necessity to give guys a breather due to the short bench but also a way to see if certain lineups stick by happenstance. 

With Kadeem Allen out nursing a knee injury with unknown return date, the Wildcats might have to keep adjusting. Miller might be forced to eventually play walk-ons such as Paulo Cruz, who saw several minutes in Tuesday’s game.

Have you seen Dusan?

Dusan Ristic has been quiet so far this season, too quiet. In two games, he has yet to hit double figures and hasn’t produced the way others in the lineup have with the minutes each of them are getting. 

His minutes dwindled toward the end of last season and players like Chance Comanche started seeing increased time. Ristic could be vital to this team or just a footnote, but he still has time to turn it around.

“I’m not worried about him,” Miller said. “Dusan starts for a reason, but we do have to get more out of him rebounding the ball. I thought he played better tonight than he did against Michigan State.”

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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