Coming into Sunday's game, there was a certain expectation of high-paced, high-scoring basketball. After all, Arizona is coming off dropping 88 points on Thursday night against Boise State. Northwestern State is coming off of three consecutive seasons where they ranked in the top two in the nation in scoring.
However, with Anderson out and Northwestern State missing their high-scoring senior, Jalan West, what the fans were treated to in McKale Center on Sunday night wasn't exactly high paced or high scoring. The game wouldn't exactly be classified as aesthetically pleasing either. Both teams struggled from the field early on and that would continue to be an issue for most of the game, as both teams shot below 40% for the game. In the first half, Northwestern State had a seven minute stretch where they were held scoreless. And Arizona couldn't get anything going in the half court offense, especially down low. They also opened 1-8 from the free throw line and ended up 12-24.
Arizona's defense did look better than it had this season, but the game was mostly defined by sloppiness. 18 turnovers on Northwestern State's side and a whole lot of missed shots inside/putbacks on the Arizona side. Quite frankly, the highlight of the game was the Zona Zoo continuously tricking the Demons into taking bad shots by doing the "3...2...1..." countdown with about 5 seconds left on the shot clock. It nearly worked every single time.
A few notes from the game...
- Gabe York continues to be the scoring machine for the Wildcats as he led the way with 18 points, his second-straight game leading the team in scoring. On a night where it felt like nobody could get anything to fall, York's stroke was solid, shooting 50% and hitting four 3's along the way. He's now averaging 16.0 points per game this year.
- After the first three games of the year, I openly wondered how long it would be before everyone saw Allonzo Trier in the starting lineup for Arizona. Well...not long at all, as he made his first start for the Wildcats on Sunday night. However, it came to be for an unexpected reason as Ryan Anderson sat out Sunday night's game with an ankle injury. Trier didn't play particularly well offensively, though he did have a nice defensive night. It'll be interesting to see if he remains in the lineup when Anderson returns, more than likely in place of Mark Tollefsen. As for Anderson, sitting tonight was a provisional measure as Arizona gears up to play three games in four nights this coming week.
- Kadeem Allen was a bright spot tonight. He only score four points, but he added five rebounds, five assists and three steals. He did a wonderful job of forcing Northwestern State turnovers and getting the Wildcats out in transition. When the shots just aren't falling, it's a huge advantage to have a guy that can get the team consistent, easy buckets in fast breaks.
- The big men especially struggled tonight. Kaleb Tarczewski, Dusan Ristic and Chance Comanche combined to shoot 6-19 from the field and 5-12 from the free throw line. They also had more of their shots blocked (2) than blocked shots (1). The amount of size on this Arizona team can be an advantage, but tonight was not the best example of that.
Arizona wins their 42nd-straight at McKale Center, but the competition is going up a notch as Arizona enters the Wooden Legacy tournament next. The tourney starts on Thanksgiving night against Santa Clara, their first game outside of McKale Center this season.