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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Pac-12 Tournament notebook: Kobi struggles, Rawle consistent and the last of Xavier Johnson

Simon Asher

Arizona’s Rawle Alkins (1) pounds past Colorado’s George King (24) during the PAC12 quarterfinals in Las Vegas, on Thursday, March 9. The Wildcats beat the Buffaloes 92-78. 

LAS VEGAS—The Arizona Wildcats defeated the Colorado Buffaloes Thursday in the Pac-12 quarterfinals in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Wildcats win many storylines but these were the few that stood out.

Zoned out?

The Wildcats were once again faced with a zone midway through the first half against the Buffs but a continuous diet of transition points and threes has a funny way of curing the ills Arizona has had against the defense. Arizona shot over 50 percent in the game, almost 65 percent alone in the second half.

Derrick White

The Senior for Colorado was the best player on the floor for either team. His pressure on the Wildcats defense put them out of position several times as he turned in a 31-point performance. You should hear his name called come June at the NBA Draft.

Kobi Simmons 

The more charismatic of all three freshman for Arizona, Kobi Simmons has suddenly found hisself on the outside looking in within head coach Sean Millers rotation. He has only played 12 minutes the past two games combined and from the looks of the quick hook he received Thursday, it doesn’t appear it will be subsiding any time soon. To his credit Simmons isn’t phased by the sudden lack of playing time.

“We’re winning, if you recall I’ve been saying that’s all I want to do,” Simmons said. “Whatever coach feels like is best to win, if that’s what it is then we get the win, I’m fine.”

Markkanens foundation

Lauri Markkanen seemed to move into the realm of the one-hit wonder, a flash-in-the-pan so to speak, but he re-emerged with his all around play against the Buffaloes. Markkanen had been struggling with his shot from distance since the Wildcats road trip to Oregon earlier in the season. Against the Buffs, Markkanen steadied his shot and connected on 4-of-7 from three, 3-of-4 in the second half alone. Markkanen finished with a team high 20 points.

The results aren’t surprising, what is, is the fact that the freshman was so out of tune with his mechanics that he slumped so much in the first place. Thursday he remedied those issues and returned to normal NBA draft pick form.

Rawle consistency

Freshman Rawle Alkins is the Wildcats most dependable player. You know what you will get from him each night, and he seemingly always evens out his own stat line by the end of the game no matter what. Thursday was no different. Alkins scored all 15 of his points in the second half and though his rebound numbers were non-existent only having one, his play overall is something Miller will rely upon.

Xavier Johnson 

What can you say about the redshirt senior that put himself on the map by calling out Arizona by stating the Buffaloes would beat the Wildcats after getting thumped in Tucson by twenty in Boulder. He has been as much a pain in the butt as any other opposing player in UA history, but has always showed up and given Arizona his very best. This was the last game Johnson will play against Arizona and seeing him put up 20 points against the Wildcats was no surprise at all.

“It’s been a good four years here, just battling against the best team,” Johnson said. “I love their fans they are great to play against…Arizona is a great team you know, they play good basketball, they’re well coached. I love their coach man, he has so much passion for the game. I wish them the best of luck.”

Johnson says he hopes to continue his career in the NBA but if not he is prepared to go overseas and play professionally.

Vegas is Wildcat Country

It has been said about seemingly every city in America that it is “Wildcat Country”, but Las Vegas has really become Tucson north. Every game, even on the first day when the Wildcats were not playing, half the fans in attendance were donning the red and blue. When the Wildcats take the floor it is unmistakingly a pro-Arizona crowd. It remains to be seen if the Wildcats can convert that energy into a Pac-12 Championship.

The Wildcats play Friday at 9:30 MST against the winner of the UCLA/USC game.

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