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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Major takeaways from Arizona basketball’s 90-54 rout of Chico State

Tyler Baker

Ryan Anderson (12) dunks over a defender during the exhibition game between Arizona and Chico State in McKale Center on Sunday, Nov. 8. Anderson finished with 19 point and 10 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 90-54 win.

Arizona continues drawing closer to the official start of the men’s basketball season. With the Wildcats winning their exhibition game 90-54 over Chico State in McKale Center on Sunday night, Arizona fans were finally able to get a glimpse at how head coach Sean Miller will operate this season’s team.

Here are some points to take away from Sunday’s action as the Wildcats head into their regular season opener against Pacific on Friday in McKale Center at 7:30 p.m.

Arizona’s starting five

After much speculation, Miller decided to go with a starting lineup of Kadeem Allen, Gabe York, Mark Tollefsen, Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski.

This group came out hot as they scored 12 straight to begin the game. Defensively, they forced Chico State into difficult shots and rebounded effectively.

“I felt great,” Anderson said. “I’ve been waiting a long time to play. I think it showed in my energy level and I think, as a team, we played really hard.”

Anderson was easily the player of the game, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds—including five offensive—and three blocks.

“[Anderson] is like a work horse,” Tarczewski said. “He had five offensive rebounds today and a lot of them were put-back dunks. He always has that feel for the ball.”

After sitting out last season, the Boston College transfer has been making preseason statements at the exhibition, in practice and at the Red-Blue Game.

“The one constant for us has been Ryan Anderson,” Miller said. “Hands down our best player. Every day.”

Miller has praised Allen for his tough defense early on and it made sense to see him start over Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

Allen played tough against Chico State, contesting each shot on defense and distributing the ball well on offense. Allen has a big job to replace the reigning king of McKale Center in T.J. McConnell.

York looked sharp, Zeus displayed his newly found midrange jump shot and Tollefsen added another strong defensive presence on the court.

Bench looks rusty

The reserve players struggled a bit to get things going while the starting lineup impressed.

Jackson-Cartwright and freshman Allonzo Trier fought to find their flow early on offense and finished with seven and 13 points, respectively. Center Dusan Ristic also needed some time to get things going, finishing with seven points.

There are bound to be mistakes in the first games of any season and the early struggles shouldn’t be too much of a concern for Arizona.

The bench’s depth should prove to be a key to the new-look Arizona squad, as it was in the exhibition. You could see the Chico State players getting tired in the second half as Miller subbed in players like freshmen Chance Comanche and Justin Simon, who were fresh and able to contribute.

This depth will play to the Wildcats’ favor as the season progresses.

Defense and fast breaks: Arizona’s most dangerous weapons

Defense has always been the trademark of Arizona basketball, and this year is no different. The Wildcats needed to find their next defensive spark after losing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and McConnell.

Allen and Elliot Pitts played well defensively with Anderson and Tollefsen also blocking shots.

“In the first half, we had some great moments on defense, but what we didn’t do is rebound very well,” Miller said. “Any good defensive team is going to be a good rebounding team and we talked a lot about that at halftime.”

The Wildcats finished the game with 39 rebounds to Chico State’s 32, but Chico State had 13 offensive rebounds to Arizona’s nine.

The Wildcats will use this tough defense to spark their transition offense, which looked good when used Sunday night.

Whether it was Allen, York or Jackson-Cartwright, Arizona was able to find good looks and easy dunks, especially in the second half. This transition offense will be crucial as Miller and company open their season Friday night.

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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