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3 takeaways from Arizona’s loss to NC State

Wildcats were just as lost as the City of Atlantis and Deandre Ayton returns home as the Wildcats’ best player.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-North Carolina State vs Arizona Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2 Arizona Wildcats fell to the NC State Wolfpack, 90-84, on Wednesday at the Imperial Arena in Nassau, Bahamas.

With the loss, Arizona now moves to 3-1 on the season. The Wildcats will also move to the consolation bracket for the remainder of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

Here are three things we learned in Arizona’s loss to the Wolfpack.

Lost in Atlantis

Some of Arizona’s top players were missing from the action Wednesday night. The Wildcats only had six points from their bench, including zero points from Brandon Randolph, Alex Barcello, and Emmanuel Akot.

Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton were the only two players to show a true effort, scoring 27 points apiece. Meanwhile, Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic added 11 points each, though 10 of Ristic’s points were tallied in the first half.

Overall, however, Arizona’s shooting appeared to disappear in Atlantis. The ‘Cats shot a season-worst 12 percent from 3 (2-17), and this includes Trier who was 0-5 from beyond the arc.

And it wasn’t necessarily that NC State had a good defense, either. Most of Arizona’s shots took bad bounces off the rim.

Arizona only shot 67 percent from the line, too.

Defense? What defense?

Arizona’s shooting wasn’t the only problem Wednesday. The ‘Cats struggled mightily on defense.

In the first three games of this season, Sean Miller admitted he was concerned about UA’s defense and that he wanted more balance between his offense and defense. He didn’t get that Wednesday.

Out of the 90 points that NC State scored on Arizona, 39 points came from the bench alongside 36 points inside the paint. Meanwhile, NC State, usually a poor 3-point shooting team, had a field day on the perimeter, shooting 8-of-20.

Miller warned prior to the tournament that Arizona needed to step up its defense game, or their competition would roll over them. That warning was proved to be correct against NC State. This game is probably going to be a wake-up call for the ‘Cats. An improvement is necessary if they want to be true national championship competitors in the NCAA Tournament.

Ayton welcomed in homecoming

Ayton was one of the only players who seemed to have made the trip down for Arizona. Ayton, a Nassau native, showed off his talent to his hometown crowd in his first game back on the island since joining the Wildcats this year.

The 7-foot-1 freshman forward scored 27 points, while shooting 7-of-12 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3 in 34 minutes.

With 14 rebounds on the night, Ayton also was able to secure his fourth straight double-double on the season. His 27 points and 14 rebounds were career-highs.

Follow Rob Leano on Twitter @RobLeano1