The Arizona Wildcats' basketball season is officially underway and they kicked it off in perfect fashion -- leading wire to wire, on their way to a 79-61 victory over the Pacific Tigers.
The 'Cats jumped out to a quick lead to open the game and never looked back. There were no devastating runs to put Pacific away, though. Arizona used their athleticism and strength to just outmuscle the Tigers, and were continuously attacking the rim. It worked well as Arizona shot 44% on two-pointers and managed to get to the line to shoot a whopping 32 free throws; they made 25 of them. It was just sharp, consistent basketball throughout, especially in the first half, which led to a 17-point lead at the break. That deficit would ultimately be too much for the Tigers to overcome.
Here are a few takeaways from the game:
What a debut for the transfers: Ryan Anderson had a double double, which will more than likely be the first of many he'll have this year. He finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, a team-high in both categories. Mark Tollefsen went for 10 points and five rebounds, accompanied by three blocks, one of which was a highlight reel block on Pacific's Ilias Theodorou.
Most impressive of all: Kadeem Allen was fantastic. He started at point guard and really did a wonderful job of controlling the game every time he was on the floor. He finished with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block. Most of those stats came in the first half. When Allen was on the floor, Arizona's spacing and ball movement really created a ton of opportunities and it's what led to easy buckets and the big halftime lead.
Iso Zo in full effect: Highly touted freshman, Allonzo Trier, struggled from the field in his Wildcat debut. He shot 1-10, and 1-6 from deep. The shots not going in isn't so much the issue, as much as it was him trying to create on his own a little too much. If Allen wasn't on the floor, the ball tended to stick and resulted in a lot of one-on-ones and three-point attempts. Over time, this can easily be remedied. It's nothing to be concerned about yet. The other freshmen, Justin Simon and Chance Comanche, were held scoreless in limited minutes.
Let it rain: Plenty of threes were taken tonight as Arizona took 20 and Pacific took 19. Each team made six. Gabe York was the only consistent shooter as he went 3-5 from deep and finished with 13 points overall.
The starters finished it: Arizona's starting lineup accounted for 63 of Arizona's 79 points tonight. Kaleb Tarczewski was the only to fall short of double digits, finishing with nine points and four rebounds.
All in all, it was a solid season debut. The 'Cats turned it over a little too often -- 14 times to be exact -- and missed too many threes. But the season is in its infancy and this team, especially its starting lineup, is already showing signs of gelling very well together.
The Wildcats are back at it in McKale Center on Monday night against the Bradley Braves.