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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Alkins continues to demonstrate composed play to help Wildcats

Simon Asher

Arizona’s Rawle Alkins (1) looks for a teammate to pass to during the UA-USC game on Thursday, Feb. 23. Arizona beat USC 90-77.

He’s a shy, at time seemingly bashful, kid, but don’t let his timid demeanor fool you, Arizona guard Rawle Alkins is a lion on the court.

When the Wildcats were in a flatline against the USC Trojans Thursday, Alkins’ timely baskets, energy and physical play sparked Arizona from down 9 to up 5 at halftime. It didn’t stop there; in the midst of a back-and-forth second half, it was Alkins’ tip-in that kept the momentum on the Wildcats’ side as they exploded to a 14-point lead at the 10-minute mark, capped off by another Alkins 3, his second of the game.

“I think he sparked us, definitely on offense and defense,” said Parker Jackson-Cartwright. “Just getting extra shots and making open shots and making plays for everyone and himself. We really fed off his energy early in the second half, and we kind of ran with that.”

All this while coming off the bench for the first time in his Arizona career.

Just before tip-off Thursday, the starting lineup was presented without Alkins for the first time all season. He had started the previous 28 games for Arizona, but the lineup of Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier and Kadeem Allen was what Arizona head coach Sean Miller chose to use.

Many players wouldn’t handle the situations Alkins has faced near as well as this freshman from Brooklyn. He continues to maintain composure no matter the circumstances. From a close win in Houston against Texas A&M to a blowout loss on the road to Oregon, Alkins’ composure has been a unrelenting bright spot within a pretty good season for Arizona.

“[Alkins] is a great teammate, and I don’t think [not starting] affected him at all tonight,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “I think he would have done the same thing if he started.”

Alkins was flawless on the offensive side of the ball, not missing a shot the entire game, going 5-for-5 and ending with 12 points to go along with four assists. Alkins’ points, while not eye-popping, were timely and his passing even better.

“Rawle is one of our cornerstones, man; he is one of our pillars,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “He hasn’t missed a practice, he hasn’t missed a game, he’s very, very unselfish … It’s the fact that he’s so versatile and can do so many different things.”

Prior to Thursday’s game, Alkins was averaging 11 points and five rebounds per game. You could argue that Alkins has been more consistent than any freshman the Wildcats have. Markkanen has had his struggles this season and Simmons has, as well. Alkins’ lows are not as low and his highs are not as high, but with a team with so many options he hasn’t needed to be.

“I think just as a group [freshman] they’re a very consistent group,” Miller said. “For as much as we’ve asked of them, they’ve delivered.”

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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