The Arizona Wildcats obliterated the Missouri Tigers 88-52 at McKale Center on Sunday night. Even though Missouri is an SEC school, it's arguably the worst team among all Power-5 teams. So the final score and the fact that it was so one-sided is not necessarily indicative of much.
That said, there were some important takeaways from the game:
Justin Simon has showed enough to be in the rotation permanently
With Elliott Pitts missing another game because of "personal matters", his minutes went to Justin Simon and Simon took advantage. He did great work on the offensive glass and seemed to be getting every 50-50 ball in this game. On defense, he used his length well and showed anticipation in the passing lane as came away with three steals. His versatility on that end is something the Wildcats could desperately use this season.
Offensively, he didn't do that much, but he also didn't try to do too much either. He had a few offensive rebounds and putbacks and hit a jumper off the dribble too. He finished with 10 points, four rebounds, and three steals in a career-high 16 minutes. That's solid production, but we'll see if he's in the rotation when (if?) Pitts returns to the lineup. I believe he should be.
Chance Comanche is in a similar position as Simon too. Kaleb Tarczewski's injury has opened the door for Comanche to get additional minutes, and Comanche snatched 10 rebounds in 13 minutes in this game. The freshmen are starting to put things together.
This is what a complete game looks like
What does it look like when the Wildcats are firing on all cylinders? This game is your answer. I thought the team's offense had its best game of the season. Arizona was moving the ball as well as I've seen and the spacing was noticeably improved. Plus, was it just me or did it seem like the pace was ramped up too? It felt like they had more shots early in the shot clock than usual, and while that isn't always a good thing, in this case it was. Most of the shots taken were good, open looks.
Oh, and they looked competent against a zone too! Here's a good example of that:
As a result of the offense's impressive play, the Wildcats ended up shooting 56.4% from the field, 7-17 (42.1%) from three, and 19-25 from the free throw line. Six different players -- Allonzo Trier, Ryan Anderson, Gabe York, Mark Tollefsen, Simon, and Dusan Ristic -- scored in double figures.
It was also the team's best defensive performance of the season. The Tigers shot just 30.4% from the field, and I could probably count the number of open shots they had on two hands. Of course, Missouri is pretty terrible, so it would not be smart to expect this kind of performance all the time, but hey, it was still encouraging.
Kadeem Allen is durable
Allen badly sprained his ankle last game against Fresno State, and it appeared as if it could've been a pretty serious injury, but nope, he was back in the lineup four days later. And though he didn't score a single point, he didn't look to be hindered by the injury.
Apparently this type of toughness from Allen is normal. Sean Miller and Gabe York had a lot of praise for the junior college transfer after the game.
"He’s a fighter," York said. "That’s somebody you can’t keep off the court. That just goes to show his strength and his ability, and everything that he brings to the table for this team."
York then mentioned how in the preseason, Allen hurt his shoulder and was expected to be out for a while, but he ended up coming back much sooner than expected.
"He did something wrong with his shoulder," he said. "I don’t even know what it was, and he came back within two weeks and the recovery process was supposed to be like three and a half."
Here's what Miller had to say about Allen:
"After the [Fresno State] game, we weren’t real sure what his status would be. But he worked really hard the last couple of days. He’s working on his academics, working with our team and on his ankle so he has a lot going on."
"To his credit, he got himself ready to play here tonight. Thank goodness. We needed him to continue to develop and I like the track that he’s on."
The injuries have hit the Wildcats pretty hard this season, but it's comforting to know that it'll be tough to keep Allen off the court.
Gabe York is capable of dunking in a game
His missed dunks have been the butt of jokes for a while now, but he finally got one to go.
Now hopefully this means he'll stop trying to do things like this now (he probably won't):