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Arizona basketball: Lauri Markkanen named Pac-12 Player of the Week after dominating against USC and UCLA

It’s about time

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats were able to come away with a road sweep against the L.A. schools this past weekend, and they couldn’t have done it without Lauri Markkanen, who was named as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday.

The 7-footer had 23 points and eight rebounds in Arizona’s 73-66 win over the USC Trojans on Thursday, then followed it up with 18 points and seven rebounds in Arizona’s upset of the No. 3 UCLA Bruins on Saturday.

In total, Markkanen shot 64 percent from the field and 8 of 10 from 3.

“He earned it,” head coach Sean Miller said Monday at his weekly press conference. “He earned it through his play. He’s had plenty of weeks in which I know he’s been a candidate, but I think the magnitude of the trip, playing both at USC and UCLA....and playing that way I’m sure gave him the nod.”

This is Markkanen’s first time being named as the Player of the Week, and he is the first Wildcat to win the award this season.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Dusan Ristic, Markkanen’s frontcourt partner. “Lauri’s a great player. He had a great last few games.”

Markkanen is averaging 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds this season, while shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3.

“Lauri’s had an outstanding season to this point, and if you look at his statistics in conference play, it’s even better,” Miller said. “The things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, he’s even better. That means defensively, playing without fouling. A lot of those other areas he’s quietly improved every single day and it’s a big reason for our success.”

In seven Pac-12 games, Markkanen is averaging 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the field and 62 percent from 3-point land.

Arizona (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) is currently on a 12-game winning streak and moved up to No. 7 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll this week.

Markkanen and the Wildcats return to action Thursday when they host the Washington State Cougars.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. MST and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire