It wasn’t easy for the Arizona Wildcats, but they did eventually get the job done.
In their final game before heading to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving, the Wildcats eventually took the game from the Northern Colorado Bears by the score of 71-55. A lot closer than the Vegas spread of 29.5.
At half, the Wildcats trailed by one, and were being outrebounded 21-17. Northern Colorado was getting the ball down to the basket with ease, making plenty of bounce passes to the post.
With just eight scholarship players available, there were a few things that really stood out about this one, especially in the early going. Things improved in the second half, but not drastically. Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Lauri Markkanen pretty much willed this team to a victory over a very young Northern Colorado team. Both finished with double-doubles, the first career one of those for Jackson-Cartwright.
Poor shooting continues to be a theme
It looked like that Arizona had solved its shooting woes for a moment, but they came back to haunt them in this one.
Overall, the Wildcats were 24-of-55 from the field (4-of-16 from three). Unlike the previous games, they weren’t able to come up with a huge disparity at the free throw line (23 to 14), thus the game ended up being a lot closer.
The shooting got a little better late in the game. Kobi Simmons did not make his first bucket until just over eight minutes left, but it was a three that put Arizona up by seven, which was tied for its largest lead of the night at that point. Overall, the numbers were much worse than what the final numbers indicate.
Poor interior defense
Usually, it’s Dusan Ristic that gets called out for the poor play on defense, but on this night, it was Chance Comanche who was really struggling on that end of the floor. When he was removed late in the first half, the assistant coaches went in on him.
Somehow, Northern Colorado was getting the ball to its big men without any issues at all. There were no hands getting near the ball on the bounce passes, and the rotation was always late. UNC does not have a player taller than 6-foot-8 in its rotation, and was still able to lead the points in the paint battle for most of the game.
One thing worth noting is Keanu Pinder’s knack to come up with big blocks. This is the second straight game he’s swatted a ball deep into the stands, and he had an important one with about three minutes left in the game.
Lead changes galore
In the very early going, both teams were just exchanging the lead time and time again. There were eight lead changes by the time the score was just 13-12, and there were 12 lead changes in the first 12 minutes of action.
There ended up being 17 of them, as well as seven ties. If anything, it showed me that Northern Colorado wasn’t intimidated by the McKale Center environment, since it was usually them responding to something that Arizona did on the offensive end to regain the lead.
This is a young UNC Bears team, but in a conference like the Big Sky, they could be set up to do some big things and be a giant killer in the NCAA Tournament. Keep an eye on Chaz Glotta moving forward too. The guy shot the lights out in McKale, putting up 15 points on 5-of-11 three point shooting. Jordan Davis also had an extremely productive night, pouring in 20 points of his own.
Lauri leading the minutes charge
With just eight scholarship players available, guys are playing more minutes than they’re used to. Lauri Markkanen was at the forefront of this on Monday, playing 19 minutes in the first half, and another 19 in the second half. Once again, he led the team in scoring with 17 points, but his 13 rebounds were EIGHT more than anyone else on the team.
A security guard’s take on Allonzo Trier
Since no one really knows anything about Allonzo Trier’s status (he didn’t play on Monday by the way), I decided to ask our security guard his thoughts. This is what he responded with:
“Man, those are some nice sweats.”
Finally, someone who’s telling the truth.
Final Box Score
Arizona’s next game is on Thanksgiving night when they take on the Santa Clara Broncos in the Las Vegas Invitational, which is being held in the Orleans Arena. Tip-off for that game will be at approximately 8:30 PM MT, or 30 minutes after the conclusion of Butler/Vanderbilt.