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6 takeaways from Arizona’s win over New Mexico

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Arizona’s big three is lethal, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright did a good job taking care of the ball

NCAA Basketball: Long Beach State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The 23rd-ranked Arizona Wildcats took down the New Mexico Lobos 89-73 on Saturday in Albuquerque.

Our full recap can be found here, and here are some additional takeaways from the game:


The big three is really, really good

Saturday was the first time Arizona’s big three of Deandre Ayton, Allonzo Trier, and Rawle Alkins started together and, man, was it a sight to see.

The trio combined for 62 points on 22-29 shooting.

Alkins, in his first start of the season, had a career-high 26 points on 9-11 shooting (3-3 3PT) along with five rebounds and two assists.

Ayton had his ninth double-double with 14 points (6-9 FG) and 13 rebounds, plus two emphatic blocks.

Trier had another super efficient game, scoring 22 points on nine shots and dished out five assists, including a few feeds to Ayton for dunks.

There will be several games this season where Arizona has the best three players on the court and Saturday was certainly one of them.

Arizona still has plenty to tighten up defensively, but it’s capable of beating any team on any night because of Alkins, Ayton, and Trier.

Not many teams can match that star power and who knows how many will even be able to slow it down.


The bench is not really, really good

As good as Arizona’s starting lineup is, its bench just isn’t productive. It was outscored 32-11 by New Mexico’s bench.

Brandon Randolph had seven points on 2-4 shooting in 14 minutes, but Ira Lee had just one point in 10 minutes, and Dylan Smith had three points in 18 minutes. Keanu Pinder only played two minutes and Emmanuel Akot picked up his second DNP.

Alex Barcello did not play because of an ankle injury, but he has not been much of a factor anyway.

Randolph is seemingly the only one who can be counted on to hit a couple shots, but both him and Smith struggle defensively. Smith fouled a 3-point shooter for the second time this season.

Lee does contribute in other ways besides scoring — he had a big block and three rebounds — but he only had a plus/minus of +2 which was the lowest on the team besides Pinder who was a -2.

Luckily for Arizona it doesn’t need a ton from its bench now that Alkins is back. A little bit more than it got Saturday would help, though.


Home away from home

One of the concerning stats about the Wildcats heading into this game is they were only shooting 24.4 percent from 3 away from McKale Center.

So much for those struggles.

The Wildcats were 9-13 from the 3-point line against the Lobos, and five different players made a 3. They also shot 16-20 from the free-throw line.

Arizona is now shooting 40.1 percent from 3 this season, and clearly that is one of this team’s strengths.


Similar problems defensively

Some familiar problems arose for Arizona, including its inability to track down defensive rebounds.

The Lobos had seven offensive rebounds in the second half which led to 13 second-chance points and them tying the Wildcats in the period.

One negative from Trier is he did not record a single rebound.

New Mexico also had open 3 after open 3 even though Arizona knew it was going to take a lot of them (the Lobos were averaging 31.3 3-point attempts per game).

The Lobos shot 12-34 (35 percent) from distance, and opponents are shooting 36.3 percent from distance against Arizona this year, which is a mark Arizona needs to improve.

Arizona did hold a 40-22 edge in points in the paint, but obviously that had a lot to do with the Lobos willingly launching as many 3s as they did. Arizona only allowed seven fast-break points, but there were some notable breakdowns that led to easy baskets.

Arizona’s offense was too good for a team like New Mexico for that stuff to matter, but Pac-12 teams might make them pay, and NCAA Tournament teams certainly will.


Careful Cats

Arizona only committed 10 turnovers against a UNM defense that was forcing 20 per game.

The Wildcats only had three turnovers in the first half, which helped them jump out to a 49-33 lead. Arizona got careless a couple times in the second half, but in all it handled UNM’s press and traps extraordinarily well in a hostile road environment.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright only had one turnover in 27 minutes, as this was a game where having a senior point guard clearly came in handy. He also hit two of his four 3-point attempts.

Trier did a solid job as the backup point guard, committing just two turnovers.

The press worked against New Mexico a lot of the time as the Wildcats were able to get easy looks at the rim after breaking it.


Rotation a little clearer

Even though Barcello was out, we got a clearer picture of who is and who is not in the Wildcats’ rotation.

Pinder only played two minutes and Akot got his second consecutive DNP, so we can assume those guys are on the outside looking in.

Smith playing 18 minutes — the most of any bench player — was a little odd, but that probably had a little to do with Barcello being out and Trier having to slide over to point guard, thus opening up more minutes on the wing.

But until Barcello returns (it’s not clear when that will be) it looks like Randolph, Lee, and Smith will round out Arizona’s eight-man rotation with Pinder checking in here and there.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire