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Arizona basketball: Lauri Markkanen even better in person

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The talented freshman showed UCLA more in person than on film

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no hiding Lauri Markkanen anymore.

He’s caught the eye of everyone around the basketball world, and for good reason. You’re talking about a seven-footer that can shoot the ball that’s not skinny by any stretch of the imagination.

But after the Arizona Wildcats beat the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, UCLA head coach Steve Alford admitted that Markkanen caught them off-guard just a little bit.

“He’s really good,” Alford said flatly. “He looks good on tape, and he’s even better in person.”

“I mean, he’s got great size and strength for a freshman,” continued Alford. “He’s a legit seven-foot. I think what I didn’t know just watching tape was his ability to put the ball on the floor. I always knew he was an elite jump shooter, but with that size to be able to put the ball on the floor — he had a heck of a spin move there in the second half — we hadn’t seen that stuff on tape, but I thought he was terrific.”

Markkanen had 18 points in 32 minutes against UCLA, and also pulled down seven rebounds. He made three of his four three-point attempts on the day, and also only had one foul and no turnovers.

Those seven rebounds helped give Arizona a +9 advantage on the boards.

“Rebounds are big for us,” the Finnish star said afterwards. “We focus on defense, but we have to finish the possession with getting defensive rebounds and not give ‘em the second shot.”

If you haven’t watched Markkanen in person yet, make sure you do it before it’s too late.