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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona avoids second half scare to defeat Santa Clara in Las Vegas

Rebecca Noble
Arizona forward Jake Desjardins celebrates one of Arizona’s many three pointers of the night among teammates during Arizona’s 78-66 win over CSUB at McKale Center on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016.

The No. 8 ranked Arizona Wildcats improved to 5-0 on the season with a 69-61 victory over the Santa Clara Broncos in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Freshman Lauri Markkanen led Arizona with 16 points and nine rebounds.

The Broncos refused to go away throughout the night and brought the game to within a point with four minutes to play. The 3-point shot kept the Broncos alive and they hit 12 on the night.

The Broncos’ Jared Brownridge once again gave the Wildcats trouble. After scoring 44 points in the Wildcats’ 75-73 victory last season, Brownridge scored 16 points in the first half. He ended the night with 25 points, and went 6-for-14 from beyond the arc. The Broncos had the Wildcats defense running through screens all night trying to keep up with Brownridge. Senior Kadeem Allen put his best effort to lock down the, but if Brownridge managed to lose Allen on a screen during a possession, it usually resulted in a bucket.

It was Arizona’s best shooting performance of the season. They hit a season high nine three-pointers and shot 48 percent.

It was possibly Arizona’s best all-around performance of the season in terms of offensive production and distribution of the ball. Arizona outrebounded the Broncos 37-26 and had a good night moving the ball around finishing with 12 assists. Every player in the rotation scored and all, but three Wildcats hit at least one 3-pointer.

The Wildcats and Broncos both struggled to capitalize on turnovers in the contest. The Broncos forced the Wildcats into 11 turnovers, but could only manage to score seven points off the turnovers. Arizona forced eight turnovers but still managed to score 11 points off the turnovers while the Broncos scored just four points off of turnovers.

Arizona’s freshman continued to lead the team and made big plays when they mattered late. Freshman guard Kobi Simmons hit a step-back jumper late in the shot clock with 2:25 to go in the ballgame. It gave Arizona a two possession lead, and it proved to be too much for the Broncos to overcome.

Arizona’s freshmen trio of Simmons, Markkanen and Rawle Alkins combined to score 38 of Arizona’s 69 points.

Markkanen’s performance was his most inefficient of the season, yet he still managed to lead Arizona in scoring. He went 4-for-11 from the field and lost a streak of 23 consecutive made free throws on the night. Markkanen was cold early, but remained aggressive throughout the night. Head coach Sean Miller has noted that he wants the Finnish prospect to play more aggressively, and Markkanen is proving to be a quick learner.

Simmons had his best night as a Wildcat, going a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. He finished with 14 points and hit arguably the game’s biggest shot.

Junior center Dusan Ristic had another bounce back performance scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds. Arizona continues to go his way early and often, and he led the Wildcats with 11 shot attempts.

Arizona is set to take on Butler Friday night at 8:30 p.m. SMT for the final round of the Las Vegas Invitational. 

Follow Chris Deak on Twitter.

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