The Arizona Wildcats are now 13-1 in Pac-12 play after dismantling the Washington State Cougars on Thursday night by a score of 78-59. This keeps UA in first place by a game over the Oregon Ducks, who dominated the Utah Utes.
The Wildcats did have to make an adjustment to the starting lineup to begin this road trip, as Kadeem Allen missed Thursday’s contest with a dislocated right pinkie finger. So Sean Miller went with Parker Jackson-Cartwright at point guard for the first time in conference play, and PJC came out swinging.
He put up 11 first half points, tied for the game lead with Lauri Markkanen at the break.
Arizona did fall behind 25-21 just under the eight minute mark of the first half, but rode a 19-6 run to the locker room, capped by this Jackson-Cartwright buzzer beater:
rkelapire: PJC buzzer beater Fox Sports 1 College Basketball: Arizona at Washington State https://t.co/Dfa7c6SCLF pic.twitter.com/PmrPlE9R7e— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) February 17, 2017
This put UA up 40-31, and they never really looked back.
PJC’s strong play kept up in the second half, finishing the game with 20 points on 5-of-7 shooting (4-of-5 from three). This was certainly his best game of the Pac-12 season, and was the highest-scoring game of his career. Maybe, just maybe, PJC is a better player in a starting role than coming off the bench.
Here are a few other takeaways from the night:
Back on the Markk
It had been a while since Lauri Markkanen had reached double figures, but it only took him 14 minutes to do so on Thursday. Then about two minutes into the second half, he surpassed his total number of field goals made over the last four games (five) by hitting his sixth shot of the WSU game.
He ended up with 19 points, which was his best output since the USC game, where scored 23. Markkanen also had 11 rebounds, which was the most since, uh, Washington State, when he had 13 in the first meeting with the Cougs.
With about five minutes left in the first half, Dusan Ristic was taken out after limping back down to the defensive end.
Ristic returned momentarily later in the first half, but Chance Comanche got the nod to start the second half over the junior. It was then revealed that Ristic suffered a sprained left ankle.
Comanche ended up with eight points in 23 minutes. He also had five rebounds. This is starting to become a theme for him as he has yet another late-season surge.
Remember when Arizona was struggling to rebound the basketball? That certainly didn’t happen in this game.
The Wildcats outrebounded WSU 42-28 in this one, including 14 offensive rebounds to the Cougs’ six. That led to Arizona leading the second chance point category 17-4. Yeah, that’ll work.
Despite Markkanen getting back on track, the same can’t be said about Allonzo Trier. His struggles from the field continued, shooting just 3-of-12. However, he did grab 12 rebounds, so he did contribute in that way.
You know how it takes college teams a few games at the beginning of the season to adjust to the new ways refs officiate each year? I kind of think that’s happening with Trier right now as he adjusts to find a way to drive to the basket more effectively.
Arizona completes the longest road trip of conference play on Saturday against the Washington Huskies. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 6 PM MT on ESPN2.