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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats can’t climb out of early deficit, lose to Gonzaga

Rebecca Noble
Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Johnathan Williams (3) and Arizona Wildcats guard Rawle Alkins (1) clamber for a rebound during Arizona’s 69-62 loss to Gonzaga at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016.

LOS ANGELES– The Arizona men’s basketball team started off sluggish and the Gonzaga Bulldogs never relinquished the lead resulting in a 69-62 loss at the Hoophall L.A. in Staple Center on Saturday.

The Bulldogs started off five of seven from 3-point range and jumped out to a 14 point lead before the halfway mark of the first half.  

“I thought we came out and we were in attack mode,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “I thought we got our hands on a lot of loose balls and were really active.”

If it wasn’t from the outside, it was ‘Zags redshirt senior Przemek Karnowski pounding the Wildcats on the inside to the tune of 18 points, all of which came in the paint. It didn’t matter who was guarding Karnowski, the Polish product used his size and finesse to  score at will against the Wildcats.

“He presents a lot of matchup problems and he is terrific in a double team,”  Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “He hit some timely baskets.”

Arizona, missing junior Parker Jackson-Cartwright, turned the ball over nine times in the first half leading to eight Gonzaga points, and to make matters worse, only made 6-11 free throws. However, after the half the Wildcats settled down and only turned the ball over three times.

Arizona struggled to find a consistent threat all night on the offensive side against the Bulldogs 2-3 zone which focused on preventing freshman Lauri Markkanen from getting any looks at three.  

“He [Markkanen] is a fabulous player and he presents a lot of problems,” Few said. “These guys deserve a lot of credit being able to guard him like we did.”

The Wildcats only took eight 3-pointers during the game, connecting on one from from Rawle Alkins late in the second half. It has been a spot of weakness all season long for the Wildcats, who dropped to 6-2 on the season. One of the few bright spots for Arizona was indeed the play of Alkins. Though he has had a slower start than the other two freshman, Markkanen and Kobi Simmons, he has started to find his way and led the Wildcats with 16 points while also pulling down seven rebounds.

“I just never give up,” Alkins said. “My coaches want me to be aggressive. He [Miller] thought that I was playing too tentative, so I just started to get back to playing my game.”

The Wildcats will return to McKale Center for a matchup with UC-Irvine on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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