2015 has come and gone, and the Arizona Wildcats once again went an entire calendar year without losing a game at McKale Center. Arizona closed out 2015 and their five-game homestand with an 85-70 victory over the Long Beach State 49ers.
In the first half, the Wildcats were surprisingly led by their backcourt. But the 49ers would keep it close until about the three minute mark of the first stanza.
For the first 17 minutes or so, Long Beach hung tight with the Cats, buoyed by three different guys scoring 7+ points in that first chunk of the game.
But then the Wildcats would start to do typical Arizona things right before halftime, pushing out to a 44-34 lead at the break. Allonzo Trier led the way for Arizona in the first half, picking up 11 points on just three field goal attempts. His ability to drive to the basket was huge for the offense as it sputtered at times. He had six free throws in the first half, and made them all. As a team, Arizona was 15-16 from the charity stripe before halftime, 28-32 for the game.
Kadeem Allen had two fouls early, but after coming back in around the nine minute mark, did not pick up another one in the first half, and added nine points of his own in the process. He only scored two more in the second half.
Then the second half came, and Dusan Ristic took over, scoring six points in the first 100 seconds out of the locker room. Trier and Mark Tollefsen would pick it up from there for the most part. Trier finished the night with a team-high 20 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3-for-5 from three). Tollefsen poured in 12 points. Gabe York also finished with a strong 12 points. Overall, Arizona had six players score in double-figures.
That'll do it for non-conference play, as Arizona finishes this part of their schedule 12-1. Long Beach State falls to 6-8 on the season.
Here are a few of the main things that happened:
Simon Says Stop: Justin Simon got just three minutes in the first half, but had two blocked shots, including this beauty:
Not so fast...Justin Simon with the block. #LBSUvsAZ pic.twitter.com/JhL5g9jake— Arizona Athletics (@AZATHLETICS) December 23, 2015
He continues to be used in an extremely limited role, but it seems like he always comes up with a big play for this team. Especially with Elliott Pitts still not dressing for unknown "personal reasons", Simon will have the opportunity to make these kinds of plays against Pac-12 foes, albeit in short spurts on the court.
Tres Trier: Five minutes into the second half, Trier hit back-to-back threes as Long Beach State dared him to shoot both. Those pushed the lead to 58-41, and Arizona never looked back, leading by at least ten the rest of the game.
Fast Start Faust: In the first minute, it looked like Nick Faust was going to score all of the points, opening the game with two-straight makes from beyond the arc. But after those six points, he only scored 11 the rest of the game. Once again, another nice job by the Arizona defense slowing down the opposing team's best player.
Picking Up Parker: Arizona's backup point guard has had a rough stretch, and it continued against Long Beach State. Parker Jackson-Cartwright did hit a three, and also a late two, but struggled to stay on the floor as he was in foul trouble throughout. Hopefully the lengthy break will give him time to rejuvenate and come back a stronger player for conference season.
Arizona is back in action on January 3rd as they travel to Tempe to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in their first Pac-12 game of the year. That game will start at Noon MST, and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.