With 9:41 remaining in the first half, Lauri Markkanen nailed a three pointer to push Arizona’s lead into double digits, 23-12.
The lead would never get back down to single digits. And Markkanen was just warming up.
In his first game as a Wildcat against the hated rival from up north, the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Finnish frosh led the Arizona Wildcats to a 91-75 win and set a new career-high with 30 points. He snagged eight rebounds too.
This game was never close. Almost immediately after tip-off, the Wildcats ran away with it. But if there is such a thing as a first half dagger, it came from Lauri Markkanen knocking down three consecutive three pointers in a one minute, 14 second stretch that extended Arizona’s lead to 17. McKale Center was rocking. The Sun Devils were in a tailspin. Bobby Hurley was grumpy.
There may have been some extra motivation for Arizona coming into Thursday’s game after Bobby Hurley’s quote earlier in the week.
“If anyone wants to win here (the state of Arizona), they better go to f****** Tucson.”
The extra motivation showed in Markkanen’s game. He had never shot more than 14 times in a game before Thursday night.
He took 18 shots against the Devils, hitting 12, including 4-7 from deep.
Lauri also tied a career-high, pulling down five offensive rebounds, showing his dominance over the Sun Devil bigs.
On a night where several Wildcats had major performances and scintillating highlights, it was Markkanen stealing the show, having one heck of a debut in this bitter rivalry. He left the McKale faithful raving.
If anything, Lauri Markkanen’s 30-point performance in Thursday night’s blowout proved something — Bobby Hurley was right.
For recruits in the US, in Finland, or from all over the world, if you want to win in the state of Arizona, you better go to Tucson.