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Arizona basketball: Chance Comanche shows off his potential in a career game vs. New Mexico

It was a much-needed confidence boost for the talented big man

New Mexico v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Chance Comanche’s pre-game meal of Chicken Alfredo and Skittles must have done the trick.

The 6-foot-11 big man dunked, dunked again, and dunked some more in a breakout game on Tuesday as the Arizona Wildcats routed the New Mexico Lobos 77-46.

Comanche finished with a career-high 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, plus grabbed eight rebounds, tying his season-high on the glass.

“I think he just made his mind up that he was going to go out there and just let it all go,” Sean Miller said after the game.

And he did, with the victim being a hapless New Mexico team — and the McKale Center rims.

Five of Comanche’s six made field goals were dunks.

“That was the best game that he’s played this season, maybe in two seasons,” Miller said. “I think that he showed, not only all of us, but himself that in a process things don’t all of a sudden happen right away. You have to go through the bumps that come with a bigger role, learn what to do, what not to do.

“But just watching his energy, six field goals I think really came at a timely manner for him. He needed some confidence and I think he’s filled with it here right now.”

Comanche needed confidence because, before Tuesday’s outburst, it had been a rough start to the season for the sophomore.

The reserve big man was averaging just 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds through the first 12 games, and hadn’t scored more than five points since Nov. 21’s win over Northern Colorado.

Even more mind-boggling were the turnovers and fouls he was committing. Miller said Comanche kept repeating the same mistakes, such as moving while setting screens.

“I just had to stop fighting myself,” Comanche said. “I just cleared my head and (told myself) ‘play basketball and stop worrying about messing up...and play like I do in practice.’

“Coach always says if you do that you’ll end up helping yourself in the game and that’s what happened today.”

Comanche’s talent hadn’t been unlocked until Tuesday, and it turns out the key is a consistent level of effort and energy. If that’s there, Comanche’s skill will display itself.

“He’s blessed with some amazing talent,” Miller said. “He’s 6-foot-11 and he runs and he jumps effortlessly, he’s really smart, he plays two positions. He knows everything that he’s supposed to. Just go out there and play really hard and use that talent, and tonight he did. And I thought there were a number of plays — not just because he went 6-for-6 from the field — just watching the energy plays that he made, he’s capable of making those plays night in and night out.”

Ever since Comanche emerged at the end of his freshman season a year ago, it was expected that he was going to take a major step forward as a sophomore.

That hasn’t happened yet, but Miller believes Comanche’s career game against New Mexico is proof of the sophomore’s progression, nonetheless.

“We see Chance everyday, so we know what he can do and when you’re a younger player who has a bigger role this year than a year ago, it doesn’t always click right away,” Miller said. “It takes some time and we’ve tried to really establish that with Chance, but we’re counting on him. He’s a big part of our team’s success and I think he has a bright future and you saw a lot of things come to life in today’s game.

“He’s one of the many things that I’m excited about moving forward because I think the best is yet to come for him.”

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire