Here are some takeaways, both good and bad, from the Wildcats’ win.
This is Allonzo Trier’s team
In case anyone had any doubt, this is 100 percent Allonzo Trier’s team.
Deandre Ayton may have gotten a ton of hype coming into the season, and has been amazing in his own right, but this team looks to its preseason All-American as its No. 1 option.
With back-to-back games scoring over 30 points, the 6-foot-5 Trier is reaping the rewards of his offseason workouts.
Trier is now a legitimate outside threat, making 5-12 Sunday and hitting 7-14 to start the season. The junior always been able to get to the rim, but his improved shot will help mitigate the effects when opponents go zone.
I know it’s early, but Trier looks like he’s making a serious run at the National Player of the Year award.
Arizona’s offense is clicking
For the first time since 2002, Arizona has eclipsed the century mark in its first two games. The Wildcats made 61 percent of their shots (39-64), 54 percent of their 3s (15-28), and had an assist-to-turnover just under 2 to 1 on Sunday.
Obviously UMBC didn’t have the physical stature to stay with Arizona but the simple fact that they were able to run their offense, get and make quality shots, while also sharing the ball speaks volumes to the make-up of this team.
Some teams stacked with five-star recruits and preseason All-American’s might run into some role-sharing issues but this team seems to have figured it out (shout out to the summer practices).
The depth is back
Thanks to the expiring suspensions of Dylan Smith and Keanu Pinder, and Brandon Randolph’s recovery from a concussion, Arizona went from having eight scholarship players to 11 in just two days — a change that positively impacts the team in several ways (ability to deal with foul trouble, less fatigue, etc.).
Plus, Smith hit two 3s and blocked two shots, having a successful debut, while Pinder did Pinder things, grabbing four rebounds and swatting a shot into the stands.
Randolph only played four minutes, but only because Arizona is being extra cautious with him. All that really mattered is that he has been cleared to return and should be ready to take on a larger role when things get serious in the Bahamas.
Let me know if you’ve heard this before: Mid-major shoots lights out against big time program. UMBC shot 50 percent from behind the arc (14-28) which kept them in the game for two-thirds of the contest.
When an Arizona defender got broken down off the dribble, everything seemed to collapse, giving the Retrievers many, many, many open looks which presumably drove Coach Sean Miller up the wall. This then brings us to our next point.
Who is this team’s lockdown defender?
At this point, Arizona doesn’t have a lockdown defender on the perimeter and it showed tonight.
Jairus Lyles just became a household name for the 14,000+ people in McKale tonight, scoring 31 points on 10-21 shooting. Last year, Kadeem Allen filled the role of guarding the opposing team’s best player, and sacrificed some offense for the good of the team.
Trier won’t take on this role for two reasons; one, can’t put him in a spot to get foul trouble, and two, he needs to focus on offense.
With this said, it looks like it’ll fall on Emmanuel Akot but that’s a tough job to hand a freshman. However, it does appear Akot has the tools to take it in stride with his length and athleticism — at least until Rawle Alkins returns from his foot injury in December.
Sloppiness kept UMBC in it
I’m going out on a very big and shaky limb on this one because 3 Up, 2 Down just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The ‘Cats had 13 turnovers, over half of which came between Parker Jackson-Cartwright (3) and Akot (4).
Against a team like this, the turnovers don’t have the same consequences as a Power-Five school but it will still need to be a focus point to keep things tight and crisp while handling the ball, especially if Arizona continues to play at such a quick pace.