Allonzo Trier scored a season-high 18 points and Dusan Ristic added 10 as the No. 5 Arizona Wildcats used a dominant second-half performance to defeat the Oregon State Beavers 71-54 in Corvallis, Ore. on Thursday night.
The Wildcats surprisingly trailed the Beavers by two at halftime, but started the second half on a 19-5 run to take a 46-34 lead and never looked back, outscoring the Beavers 44-25 in the second half.
The victory improves Arizona’s record to 21-2 overall and 10-0 in the Pac-12, and it’s the Wildcats’ 15th win in a row.
After struggling against Oregon State’s zone in the first half, the Wildcats shot 54 percent in the second half. Meanwhile, the Beavers shot 50 percent in the first half, but just 35 percent in the second half.
Trier scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half, and was too much for the Beavers to handle, especially in transition.
.@ISO_ZO flexes after muscling through the defense for an and-one. pic.twitter.com/IZ6uyfOSLL— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) February 3, 2017
Trier and Ristic were the only two Wildcats to score in double figures, though Kobi Simmons and Parker Jackson-Cartwright each had nine points.
Lauri Markkanen had just eight points on 1-6 shooting, but he did track down nine boards.
Oregon State led 29-27 at halftime after gashing the Wildcats in the paint and using its 2-3 zone to slow down Arizona’s offense.
18 of OSU’s 27 points in the first half came in the paint, with Gligorije Rakocevic and Drew Eubanks combining for 14 points on 6-11 shooting.
The Beavers’ frontcourt got some help from Stephen Thompson Jr. on the perimeter, who scored 10 first-half points. In total, OSU shot 50 percent in the first half, while Arizona shot just 35 percent.
The Wildcats got virtually no production from their frontcourt in the first 20 minutes as Markkanen had two points on 0-5 shooting, Ristic had just four points on 1-4 shooting (one of his misses was a wide open dunk), and Chance Comanche was held scoreless.
Jackson-Cartwright came off the bench and immediately knocked down two open 3s to put Arizona up 14-6 seven minutes into the game, but OSU responded with an 8-0 run to tie the game.
Trier then had a personal 5-0 run with a 3 and a stepback jumper to make it 19-14, but the Wildcats’ offense stalled considerably after that as they missed seven of their last nine shots in the first half, allowing Oregon State to lead at the break.
It was the first time Oregon State had a first-half lead since Dec. 21 when the Beavers beat Kent State.
Unlike that night, though, the Beavers couldn’t hang onto their lead in the second half against Arizona.
Final box score
It’s safe to say Arizona is a second-half team now. Oregon State looked overwhelmed by the Wildcats’ athleticism as the game progressed, and earlier in the season that was never the case for Arizona.
Usually it was the Wildcats who would wear down in the second half, but having a ninth player has made that a thing of the past.
Now, the Wildcats just have to figure out how to perform in the first half again. Arizona didn’t change its starting lineup for this game, but it would not be surprising if that’s in the cards against Oregon on Saturday.
Points for Parker
Jackson-Cartwright hadn’t taken a shot in the last two games heading into Thursday’s contest, but he quickly snapped that streak.
The 5-foot-10 point guard checked in early in the first half and immediately sank two 3-pointers. It was just the third time all season Jackson-Cartwright has made more than one 3 in a game.
PJC has had a rough year shooting the ball — he is shooting 26 percent from behind the arc this season — but maybe his performance against Oregon State will prove to be a turning point of sorts for him.
Familiar problems emerge in first half
Just like against Washington on Sunday, this was a tale of two halves for Arizona. In the first half, the Beavers eviscerated the Wildcats in the paint while Arizona’s offense was mystified by OSU’s 2-3 zone.
Arizona corrected the issues against the zone in the second half by attacking the rim more frequently, but it’s still concerning that year in and year out the Wildcats have issues generating offense against a zone.
After not playing at all against Washington last game, Keanu Pinder made an appearance against Oregon State in the second half and he made a noticeable impact, even if the game was already out of reach when he checked in.
He finished with three points and four rebounds in five minutes.
Meanwhile, it was a tough night for Comanche, who had just three points (0-3 from the field) and four rebounds in 19 minutes. He had four fouls, too.
Another game, another ridiculous dunk by @JordanKobi pic.twitter.com/C8C45lZZgJ— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) February 3, 2017
Arizona returns to action Saturday in Eugene when it takes on the No. 13 Oregon Ducks. It’s the Wildcats’ biggest game of the season as a win would all but lock up the Pac-12.
Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. MST and the game will be televised on ESPN.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire