The Arizona Wildcats struggled against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, understandably so given the Cats only had seven scholarship players available.
Gonzaga was able to take advantage of Arizona’s lack of interior defense, as Przemek Karnowski went right at Dusan Ristic and Chance Comanche throughout the day, leading all scorers with 18.
But on the Arizona side, one player stood out above the rest, and that was Rawle Alkins.
The freshman put up a team-high 16 points, and also chipped in seven rebounds.
“I don’t know where we would be without both of them,” Sean Miller said afterwards about Alkins and Lauri Markkanen. “They’re two of our top-three leading scorers, and they’re very coachable.”
“They’re only going to get better. This experience will only make them better.”
As Alkins continues to progress through this first season at the college level, he will only become a bigger weapon on the offensive end for this team.
“I would probably say my biggest adjustment from high school to college is knowing when to drive and attack the rim,” Alkins said on Wednesday. “The ball has to get moving a little bit before I can go and play my game. That causes a lot of charges for me early on this year, but I feel a lot more confident in my ability to attack the rim now.”
One of his three fouls on Saturday was a charge, but he wasn’t out of control like he seemed to be in Las Vegas the week prior.
He also shot 7-of-15 from the field overall against the Zags. He was 1-for-3 from three-point range, and 3-of-4 on jumpers from inside the arc. At the rim, only three of his eight attempts fell.
“I’m working on my pull-up jump shot, floaters, and off one leg,” he added. “(Committing a charge) is going to be rare for me now.”
Arizona will need him to continually improve on this, especially with the minutes load being forced upon him right now (37 on Saturday, 34 on Wednesday). As Alkins improves, that will give Arizona another option in those clutch spots that this team will inevitably find itself in often this year as they continue to work through depth issues.
The Wildcats return to the floor on Tuesday when they face the UC-Irvine Anteaters in McKale Center. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 8 PM MT on Pac-12 Networks.