It was a cat-eat-dog type of week for Sean Miller's Arizona Wildcats as they came from behind to win both games against the opposing Bulldogs.
Neither game was especially pretty, but the Wildcats stepped up their defense in the second half of both games to bring their record to 8-1, and extend their home winning streak to 43 games.
Even though Gonzaga and Fresno State shot a blistering 58% in the first half, Arizona used their athleticism, toughness, and experience to force the 'Dogs downward to a tune of 34% shooting after halftime. There's a multitude of reasons why Arizona's defense improved, but it gives us a good measurement of how good this team can be when they are on their 'A' game.
Here are the combined statistics:
Allonzo Trier, A+: Just look at his stat line. He had a 20.5 points per game average with 70% shooting AND grabbed 12 rebounds. For a freshman that's ridiculous. Basically for anyone that's ridiculous. He has become the team's go-to scorer.
Gabe York, A: Thanks for saving us in Spokane and solid bank shot in Wednesday night's victory. York was Andy Katz's National Player of the Week last week for his performance against Gonzaga, and he didn't want to be forgotten this week either. He's going to be streaky, but if we can have more of what we've been seeing lately, the Cats are going to be good.
Ryan Anderson, B+: He averaged 15 and 6 over this two game span, which strangely enough is kind of a let down from what we're used to. Anderson put expectations so high to start the year that now we expect a double-double every game. He is still our go-to threat down low and continues to dunk the ball every chance he gets which never, ever gets old.
Dusan Ristic, B-: His play around the rim against Gonzaga is what gives him the B. In the second half, the Zags missed plenty of what would normally be easy shots in the paint, but Ristic's length and size added another dimension to those attempts. With Trier, York and Anderson leading the way offensively, the Serbian's points should stay where they currently are. All we need is him to stay healthy and continue making life difficult for opposing players inside the key.
Kadeem Allen, B-: His Gonzaga game was miserable so lets just throw that out out the window. Against Fresno State, Allen was having a great game before a non-contact ankle roll that looks to possibly sideline him until 2016. His 13 points, 5 assists, and two 3-pointers, plus me wanting to be nice to our latest cripple is why he gets into the 'B' range.
Mark Tollefsen, C: He has his good games and has his less-than-good games. Lately, they've been less-than-good games. However, his minutes are not taking a hit, which means Miller likes what he is seeing from the transfer forward. I'm still under the impression Tollefsen hasn't fully adapted to the system and higher quality of teammates/not being the number one option. Let's see how things play out over the next month.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, D: I won't sugar coat it. This wasn't a good stretch for PJC. With Kadeem Allen out, the team needs him to step up in a big way. Twenty-percent shooting for a point guard on a top-15 ranked team will not cut it. The team will have a few practices to get PJC back into the flow. Hopefully it's a seamless transition.
Elliott Pitts, D: He's going through something right now. Miller, in his postgame press conference, said Pitts did not suit up for personal reasons that did not involve disciplinary reasons ... whatever that means. While his minutes are up 50%, his outside shooting percentage is a third of what it was last year. When we find out what's going on, we'll make sure to pass it along.
Chance Comanche and Justin Simon, N/A: Both saw playing time - albeit not much - in both games, but there's not enough to go on to give a fair grade.
Arizona's next game is Sunday night at 6pm local time against Missouri. The game is on the Pac-12 Networks.