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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona takes care of Texas Southern behind Markkanen, Allen despite Jackson-Cartwright injury

The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats moved to 6-1 with a 85-63 victory over the Texas Southern Tigers. Freshman Lauri Markkanen led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Junior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright left the game in first half with what is being called an ankle injury. He played only six minutes on Wednesday before exiting the game and Arizona finished the night with just seven redshirt players dressed. 

Head coach Sean Miller said that Jackson-Cartwright has a high ankle sprain, and from what Miller can understand Jackson-Cartwright will be out “for a considerable amount of time”, but x-rays came back negative. Injuries continue to pile up on the Wildcats and it’s just the beginning to wear on Miller’s outlook.

“It’s a high ankle sprain and a bad one,” said Miller on Jackson-Cartwright’s ankle. “Someone could get hurt tomorrow, that’s just the way it is.”

Arizona broke its streak of starting off slowly and jumped out to a 25-9 lead to begin the first half. After their loss last Friday to the Butler Bulldogs, the Wildcats started things off against the Tigers with a clear sense of urgency. Miller said it was the defense that sparked the Wildcats quick start.

“I thought our defense in the first half was excellent,” said Miller. “Our team has the makings of being a very good defensive team. The fact that you could force [Texas Southern] in to 13 turnovers in one half really says a lot about our activity, how hard we were playing. Our [defense] really fueled our offense because we were able to get out in transition and we were playing off of their miscues.”

Arizona once again had a decided size advantage, but this time it came in the backcourt. Texas Southern’s backcourt was under 6-feet tall and freshman Rawle Alkins immediately took advantage and scored four quick buckets in the first minutes of the contest.

The Tigers were thrown off their game by a stifling Arizona defense. The Wildcats forced 13 turnovers in the game and made it nearly impossible for the Tigers to get to the hoop. UA posted six steals in the game, and one of those steals led to a Kadeem Allen to Kobi Simmons alley-oop that energized McKale Center in the first half.

Texas Southern forward Derrick Griffin headed in to the contest leading the nation in offensive rebounds and snagged four offensive boards in the first half. Outside of Griffin’s eight points and six rebounds in the first half, the Tigers struggled in every aspect of the game. Arizona’s defense made it difficult for the Tigers undersized guards to get to the hoop and caused multiple turnovers in the paint. Arizona won the rebounding battle 32-28 and dominated the paint winning that battle 40-22.

Markkanen turned in his most efficient night as a Wildcat. He scored his 19 points on nine shots and went 5-for-6 from 3-point land. The Tigers opted to start the game giving Markkanen a cushion from beyond the arc and made them pay on multiple occasions.

Arizona’s three freshmen combined for 48 points in the game. Alkins had his way with the undersized guards for the Tigers and finished with 14 points adding two steals as well. Kobi Simmons finished the night with 15 points and three assists and made a few big plays above the rim for Arizona. Simmons is arguably Arizona’s best athlete and his athleticism was on full display Wednesday.

Allen had a solid performance notching 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Allen finished out the second half primarily playing point guard and showed he still knows how to play there if Arizona needs him to.

With No. 8 Gonzaga coming up, Arizona will only have seven scholarship players available. Allen knows that it is time for the Wildcats to step their game up to another level.

“We’re very excited [to face Gonzaga],” said Allen. “It’s a chance for our team to really bring out the best in our team, it’s big boy basketball on Saturday.”

Arizona heads to Los Angeles this weekend to take on the No. 8 Gonzaga Bulldogs in Los Angeles at Staples Center at 3:30 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN.


Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter.


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