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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Markkanen, Trier lift Arizona past starving Washington in Seattle

Joseph Oh
Change Comanche dunks over Washington’s Malik Dime during the second half.

Shorthanded and playing against a Washington team desperate for a win, the No. 5 Arizona Wildcats overcame the Huskies late in the second half 76-68 to complete the road sweep. 

Freshman Lauri Markkanen earned his second double-double of the season with 26 points and 13 rebounds including 7 offensive rebounds. When Markkanen plays well, the outcome has a tendency to be positive, but playing without two starters gave Arizona difficulties down the stretch.

Center Dusan Ristic was out for Saturday’s matchup with a sprained left ankle he suffered in the first half against Washington State. The last time Ristic missed a game was his freshman season at Washington State during the same week of the season.

Kadeem Allen was a game-time decision with a dislocated finger and dressed out, but never got in the game. 

“On Tuesday of this week, his bone popped out of his skin,” said head coach Sean Miller. “We thought we lost him for the year… From what I’m told, he’s full-go for next week.” 

Allonzo Trier got the party started with a pair of 3-pointers in a span of less than two minutes in his Seattle homecoming.

After Arizona led the Huskies 17-9 in the first half, Washington was able to scrape its way into making it a competitive matchup behind Noah Dickerson’s 8 points. However all around, Matisse Thybulle’s 8 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and zero assists gave the Huskies a spark. It was needed, because the bulk of potential No. 1 NBA Draft pick Markelle Fultz’s points came from free throws.

Although Dickerson attacked Arizona’s frontcourt early on, Markkanen picked up where he left off Thursday and scored 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field and 8 rebounds. Normally a threat from 3-point range, Markkanen didn’t take a shot attempt from beyond the arc and went 4-for-5 from the free throw line

Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who came off a career-high performance of 20 points Thursday, showed more confidence from 3-point land going 3-for-3 from deep. Jackson-Cartwright had 9 points and 3 assists in his second game starting for Allen. He was also able to get in the lanes to cause disruption for Washington’s David Crisp. 

“I can’t say enough good things about Parker,” Miller said. “He did a great job defensively and hung in there.”  

Both teams showed sloppiness, especially Arizona late in the first half with five turnovers and allowing Fultz to score the final 7 points of the half to tie it.

The Wildcats came out in the second half and fed Chance Comanche in the post to push a 5-point lead, but Arizona had no answers for Fultz.

Previously when they met, Fultz scored 16 points on 23 shot attempts and was guarded by Kadeem Allen. Trier guarded Fultz for majority of the game, but no matter what, he found his way to the bucket.

Fultz scored 15 of Washington’s 19 points between the conclusion of the first and start of the second half.

What is usually known as Arizona’s kryptonite, Miller utilized a 2-3 zone defense that benefitted the Cats in the second half. 

“Going zone in the second half, which is something we seldom do, you don’t really know if that’s going to work or not,” Miller said. “In my mind, it changed the tide of the game and I give our players a lot of credit, because we work on it everyday… For the most part, we knew what we were doing.” 

Comanche, who was given the nickname “Chief” by ESPN’s Bill Walton, was active early in the second half of his first career start at Arizona. In the first 12 minutes of the second half, Comanche posted 6 points on 75 percent shooting, but he also held Dickerson to just 2 points in that span.

Markkanen was still Arizona’s most productive player all around, but Trier took over the second half. Trier gave Arizona a nine-point lead with a double-clutch SportsCenter top-10 nominee dunk.

Trier and Markkanen were the leaders for Arizona, but Washington continued to hang around and it appeared to be another game where the Cats would take it all the way down the wire regardless of opponent.

That was primarily from the lack of bench production and with two starters out, the Wildcats only scored two bench points from Kobi Simmons who went 1-for-9 from the field.

Overall, the game was a roller coaster tempo as both teams combined for 25 turnovers, but it was also a game of execution and the Wildcats simply capitalized in areas Washington couldn’t.

For one, Fultz showed NBA readiness with 26 points, but the freshman went 10-for-15 from the free throw line missing crucial free throws that could’ve changed the outcome of the game. Washington went the final 4:41 without hitting a field goal despite trailing 69-66.

Arizona saw life without its starting senior and Miller said he deserves to win defensive player of the year after seeing how the Wildcats play without him. 

“If he’s not defensive player of the year or at least top-five defenders in the Pac-12, I’d be really surprised,” Miller said. 

It wasn’t the prettiest game Arizona played all season, but the productivity from Markkanen’s 26 points and Trier’s 21 points proved to be just enough to give the Wildcats their 25th win of the season and focused to the final set of home games.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter. 

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