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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona returns home after rough road trip to face Washington

Arizona+guard+Allonzo+Trier+%2811%29+jumps+for+a+dunk+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+9+in+Los+Angeles.+The+Wildcats+aim+to+continue+their+home-winning+streak+past+Pac-12+Conference+leading+Washington.+
Rebecca Noble
Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (11) jumps for a dunk on Saturday, Jan. 9 in Los Angeles. The Wildcats aim to continue their home-winning streak past Pac-12 Conference leading Washington.

After a three-game road stretch that included a rivalry win, a pair of losses and star freshman Allonzo Trier’s broken hand injury, Arizona men’s basketball is ready to return to the friendly confines of McKale Center.

The No. 18 Wildcats (1-2, 13-3 Pac-12 Conferenec) will look to extend their 47-game home winning streak when they host the Pac-12 Conference leading Washington Huskies for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

Arizona enters the game coming off two close losses to UCLA and USC over the weekend in Los Angeles. The UA won its Pac-12 opener against ASU last Sunday.

Despite dropping a pair of games early in conference play, Arizona head coach Sean Miller was upbeat at his weekly press conference, given the team also lost its top scorer on the Los Angeles road trip.

Trier broke his hand while playing defense during the first overtime period of Arizona’s four-overtime loss to USC on Saturday.

Trier went on to play all four overtime periods, but Miller could tell something wasn’t right with the freshman guard when he uncharacteristically missed a pair of free throws during the third overtime session.

“In the heat of the battle, you don’t know the significance of his injury,” Miller said. “He wanted to play.”

The program announced Sunday that Trier would miss four to six weeks.

Without Trier’s 14.8 points per game, the Wildcats will need to rely more heavily on freshman Justin Simon as well as fifth-year senior Mark Tollefsen.

Additionally, Miller said the Wildcats will depend on a lineup featuring Parker Jackson-Cartwright at point guard, Gabe York at the two and Kadeem Allen at the three.

“That would make us very small, but that’s something we’re going to do have to whether we want to or not,” Miller said.

Simon, a former four-star recruit out of Temecula, California, will likely see the biggest jump in minutes. Simon had already been receiving more playing time as of late thanks to his efforts on the defensive end.

“He’s just an incredibly coachable kid. He has not missed one practice or anything that we’ve done,” Miller said. “I think he could hit his stride with a renewed opportunity here. With game experience, he’ll learn through trial and error.”

Meanwhile, Tollefsen will switch over from the four spot to the perimeter, according to Miller. As for Elliott Pitts, Miller said that the junior guard is still out for personal issues.

Replacing Trier’s offensive production may be less of a concern than the lack of depth now available at the two-spot.

That could pose an issue on Thursday as Washington’s top two scorers rest on the perimeter.

Andrew Andrews, the Huskies’ senior point guard, leads the Pac-12 in scoring by a large margin, averaging 21.4 points per game. Andrews is coming off a pair of 20-point performances and most recently dropped 25 on rival Washington State.

The Wildcats will need to keep Andrews guarded along the perimeter, as he’s currently in a hot spell from deep.

Washington has three other players who average double digits in scoring including Dejounte Murray, who leads all Pac-12 freshmen with 15.2 points per game.

“[Washington] would be a challenge if we were healthy,” Miller said. “They’re really a challenge now. We’re going to have to play what I think is one of our best games of the year.”

Arizona hasn’t lost in McKale Center in over two years, and for good reason, but Washington’s shooting could pose a threat to that winning streak, especially if the UA plays lackluster perimeter defense as it has for spurts of the past few games.

The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

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