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3 things to watch when Arizona takes on CSU Bakersfield

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Will Brandon Randolph work his way back into Miller’s rotation, and what adjustments will the UA head coach make on defense?

NCAA Basketball: Northern Arizona at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats are set to host the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners on Thursday in their final game before heading to the Bahamas next week for Battle 4 Atlantis.

Arizona won its first two games against NAU and UMBC, eclipsing the 100-point mark in both contests.

Now, CSU Bakersfield is going to get its shot at trying to slow down the Wildcats’ offense.

The two teams have faced twice before, including a 78-66 Wildcats win last year in which the Roadrunners hung around, only trailing by four with 9:04 left in regulation.

Here are a few things to watch in this year’s rematch Thursday (8 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).


Will Trier’s scoring run continue?

After putting up 62 points in two games last week and receiving Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, junior guard Allonzo Trier is showing no signs of slowing down.

On Friday’s home opener, Trier posted a career-high 32 points against NAU with 19 of those points coming from the first half alone.

He then followed that up with a 30-point performance against UMBC on Sunday, shooting 10-of-18 from the field, 5-of-12 from 3, and 5-of-7 from the line.

Trier may very well have another standout performance against the Roadrunners.

There’s no expectation that he will pass 30 points again, given the Roadrunners will be more challenging then UA’s previous opponents, but the Wildcats don’t exactly need him to score that much to win.

There are plenty of other players, like Deandre Ayton, who can complement him just fine.


Brandon Randolph getting more playing time

Randolph missed the Wildcats’ final exhibition game against Chico State and season opener against NAU due to a concussion. The freshman was cleared to play against UMBC on Sunday, but only played four minutes.

Miller said he was happy Randolph was able to play at all against UMBC, having only been cleared for contact just a day before the game.

Now Randolph should be ready for a full return, fighting for his place among UA’s 11 scholarship players.

The last time Randolph had a full allotment of minutes was in the Wildcats’ exhibition against Eastern New Mexico. Randolph’s numbers that game weren’t necessarily stellar — he was 5-of-12 on the night and 0-for-7 from three point range for 14 points.

In Randolph’s four minutes on the court against UMBC, he was 2-of-2 from the field, and 1-of-1 from deep, though both baskets were scored when the game was well out of reach.

But Randolph should be closer to 100 percent Thursday and get a fair share of playing time, so he should be ready to make a bigger impact.


Sean Miller’s defensive adjustments

Ah, here we go again. Defense is the big factor here for the Wildcats. While the offense is no doubt firing on all cylinders, Arizona’s defense in the past couple games hasn’t been what Miller was hoping for.

NAU and UMBC combined for 49-of-120 (40.8%) on field goals against Arizona, including 18-of-41 (43.9%) from 3-point range.

Miller has been calling for more balance between offense and defense, so look for him to make several adjustments Thursday so Arizona’s defense can be firing nearly as effectively as its offense.

And Miller hinted Wednesday that it won’t be schematic changes that will be made, but lineup changes, inserting the players who are willing to exert the most effort on defense.

But even if the Wildcats do get past the Roadrunners, they might have some problems moving forward if their defense doesn’t improve, especially when they travel to the Bahamas where they will face better competition in N.C. State and Villanova/Purdue.


Follow Rob Leano on Twitter at @RobLeano1