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Arizona basketball: Chance Comanche is giving the Wildcats “quality minutes” every game

Comanche has been instrumental in the Wildcats’ 14-game winning streak

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

The Arizona Wildcats have won 14 games in a row and while there are many reasons to explain the team’s long-lasting success, one of them is the improved and more consistent play of Chance Comanche.

The 6-foot-11 big man struggled early in the season, but hit his stride toward the end of non-conference play and it has carried over into Arizona’s Pac-12 slate.

Since Pac-12 play started on Dec. 30, Comanche is averaging 6.9 points per game while shooting 74 percent from the field.

“Chance is one of the reasons that we’ve really played well recently,” head coach Sean Miller said Sunday after Comanche had six points in the win over Washington. “His field goal percentage is awesome, and he’s more sure of himself. He’s more confident.”

As a result, Comanche’s playing time has stabilized since the start of conference play. Since UA’s win over Colorado on Jan. 7, Comanche has played between 16 and 18 minutes in every game for the Wildcats.

Good minutes, too.

In the last three games, Comanche is averaging 8 points per game and has added a mid-range jumper to his offensive repertoire (to go along with his penchant for throwing down emphatic dunks).

“Chance is giving us quality minutes every game,” Miller said. “His shooting percentage is off the charts. He’s become a dependable low-post scorer and he did a very good job helping on the ball screens.”

Miller said Comanche’s defensive ability was key in limiting UW star guard Markelle Fultz to 16 points on 23 shots on Sunday.

“A lot times with Fultz, it’s never just one player that defends a very good player on the other team, it’s the team and Chance was a big part of our success when we played some really good defense,” Miller said.

Miller said Comanche has cut back on turnovers that plagued him early in the season, but he’s still looking for the big man to defensive rebound better.

The sophomore ranks fifth on the Wildcats in defensive rebounding percentage (14.8).

“He didn’t defensive rebound in the game yesterday, I think he did have one,” Miller said Monday, referencing the game against UW. “Some of that is a function of wrong place, wrong time, but I think that’s something that we’re going to talk to him about.

“But all of the other areas he did a really good job. He’s taking care of the ball better. He would always have that one illegal screen or that one turnover when we first started the season, but that’s really gone away. He’s an overall much better player and he’s giving us some great minutes for sure.”

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