The Texas Southern Tigers are playing one of the most demanding non-conference seasons in the history of college basketball this year, not playing a single home game before they begin SWAC play.
When the TSU road show came to Tucson on Wednesday, the Arizona Wildcats slashed all of the tires of the convoy en route to an 85-63 victory.
Arizona’s first home game in nine days was never particularly close as the Cats got out to a 19-4 lead in the first six and a half minutes of action.
At halftime, both Kadeem Allen and Lauri Markkanen had already reached double digits in scoring, while Arizona led 45-26 when the two teams went back to their locker rooms. The biggest story though was the absence of Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who went to the locker room 12 minutes prior due to an apparent leg injury. He also did not come out of the locker room for the second half.
Here’s what else we took away from this game:
Injuries mean walk-ons play
Arizona is already working with just eight scholarship players, but with their starting point guard out, we saw walk-on Tyler Trillo get in the game with just over two minutes left in the first half. Trillo only played for 17 seconds in that stint, but he also got some time in the second half as the score started to tighten up a little bit. If PJC’s injury is a multi-game situation, we could see more of Arizona’s walk-ons in crucial spots.
With the official addition of another walk-on in Kory Jones, it will be interesting to see what happens with that group of players moving forward.
Of note, Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons, and Rawle Alkins all played more than 30 minutes Wednesday night. Five Wildcats scored in double-figures in this one as well.
Lauri Markkanen is still Lauri Markkanen
After going 5-for-15 from three in his last three games (which is somehow below average for the Finn), he brought those numbers right back up in this one, shooting 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Keanu Pinder is not Lauri Markkanen...maybe
With just over a minute left in the first half, the Australian got a pass in the corner, and took the three, his first such attempt in an Arizona uniform. The ball sailed through the air, and continued sailing through the air until it found the floor, missing the rim by a good foot.
With just over a minute left in the game, Pinder redeemed himself by knocking in a long-range bomb from the wing. Of course, that was the first make from three-point range of his career.
The student body is not as turned on to basketball as it has been
When you’re talking about a Wednesday night at the end of November, there’s nothing better to do in Tucson as a student than go to an Arizona basketball game. That being said, this weak home non-conference schedule has seemingly taken its toll on the overall interest level of students attending games.
It got a little more crowded after this, but not much. Seems bizarre to me that the ZonaZoo isn’t able to fill up.
The next one will be more difficult
This was an interesting tune-up for Arizona heading into Saturday’s heavyweight matchup against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Los Angeles. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 3:30 PM MT on ESPN.
If Arizona will actually be without Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Allonzo Trier in that one, things could get difficult early for the Wildcats going up against a talented roster like the one coming out of Spokane.