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Rawle Alkins returns, gives Arizona ‘confidence and a smile’ in win vs. Alabama

He’s back!

Alabama v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Rawle Alkins stepped onto the McKale Center court for the first time this season Saturday when the Arizona Wildcats defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide, 88-82.

The sophomore guard broke his foot in late September and was sidelined for 11 weeks, but it didn’t take him long to sub in.

Just two minutes and 54 seconds into the first half, Alkins entered to a loud standing ovation from the Wildcat faithful.

“It was great to have him back,” head coach Sean Miller said. “As you guys know he’s a fantastic kid, and he gives our team confidence and a smile.”

Alkins opened his night with a back-to-back assists to Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic, and finished with seven points in 22 minutes, shooting 2-6 from the field, 0-2 from 3, and 3-6 from the free throw line.

“I wasn’t trying to do to much. I was trying to just get by and see what was there and take what the defense was giving me” Alkins said. “But I’m still a little rusty as you can see, my shot wasn’t falling too much, but over time that’s going to get better.”

Alkins picked up four fouls and Miller noted he wasn’t completely in game shape, but he still showed signs of the defensive tenacity he played with last season.

“The first game is the hardest, and he will really settle in as he moves forward,” Miller said. “But he moved great ... You can prepare for a game, but until you’re actually in the game, it’s different. And that will come obviously as he stays with us every day.”

Arizona has won four straight since its three-game losing streak in the Bahamas, and Miller believes the team has improved since then — and now that Alkins is back, it should be able to reach new heights.

“Our practices have been better and sometimes it’s as simple as one of our best players hasn’t played yet either,” Miller said. “I think that as Rawle settles in, our team has a big upside.”

Follow Robby Leano on Twitter @RobLeano1