Allonzo Trier scored 25 points and Rawle Alkins added 12 as the fourth-ranked Arizona Wildcats beat the USC Trojans 90-77 in an offensive battle on Thursday night in McKale Center.
The Wildcats improve to 26-3 overall and 15-1 in the Pac-12. USC drops to 21-7 and 8-7, respectively.
Trier scored 15 points the second half, allowing Arizona to finally pull away after the Trojans hung tight with the Wildcats for most of the game.
He shot 7-of-11 from the field, and 4-of-6 from 3. Alkins, who was not in the starting lineup for the first time this season, was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and had four assists and four rebounds.
A dunk by Chimezie Metu put the Trojans within five points with 13:21 to play, but that is as close as USC would get thereafter. With two buckets from Trier the Wildcats broke off a 15-4 run, putting them up 71-55 with roughly nine minutes to play.
USC cut its deficit to seven with 1:49 to play, but were unable to close it further as Lauri Markkanen dropped in a layup to put UA back up by nine.
Markkanen had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Arizona shot 51 percent in the game, while USC shot 53 percent. One area the Wildcats had a major advantage was the turnover differential. The Trojans committed 14 turnovers to the Wildcats’ nine, and Arizona had 23 points off turnovers.
Bennie Boatwright led the Trojans with 23 points and Jordan McLaughlin and De’Anthony Melton each scored in double figures.
Arizona held the rebounding edge, 30-27.
The two teams were tied at 13 midway through the first half, but the Trojans created some space.
With little resistance from Arizona’s defense, USC was able to take a nine-point lead with 6:11 in the first half after De’Anthony Melton threw down a powerful dunk in a cleared lane, putting the Trojans up 28-19.
USC was shooting over 60 percent at several points in the game, as the Wildcats had trouble both defending of the dribble and protecting the rim.
The Trojans had 26 points in the paint in the first half, and wound up shooting 57 percent the period.
Arizona’s offense had a flurry of its own, though, propelling it to a 44-39 lead at halftime. Arizona shot 46 percent from the field and 6-of-11 from 3.
The Wildcats went on a 25-11 run after USC opened up a nine-point lead, thanks to some lethal 3-point shooting.
Kobi Simmons and Trier each hit a pair of 3s in the final 2 1⁄2 minutes of the first half to put Arizona up at the break.
Around the same time, there was a scary moment for Simmons, who got tangled up with Parker Jackson-Cartwright as the latter tried to get around a screen.
Simmons fell to the ground and appeared to be holding his left ankle.
Here's a look at Kobi Simmons' injury. He was clipped by Parker Jackson-Cartwright pic.twitter.com/AaEP46hvQ8— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) February 24, 2017
He limped to the bench and spent the last few seconds of the first half in the locker room. However, he would return in the second half and finish with eight points in 13 minutes.
PJC and Comanche start, Alkins and Ristic move to the bench
Arizona debuted a brand new starting lineup for this game, rolling with Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Kadeem Allen, Allonzo Trier, Lauri Markkanen and Chance Comanche.
Dusan Ristic (coming off an ankle injury) and Rawle Alkins made their first appearances off the bench this season.
Alkins evidently handled the benching well and Ristic wasn’t too shabby either, finishing with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Chance Comanche, who made his second start of the season, had six points and one rebound in 21 minutes.
As far as the effectiveness of the new starting lineup, the stats were in its favor. Trier and Markkanen were +16 and +13, respectively. Comanche and Jackson-Cartwright were both +9 and Allen was +8.
Trier starting to get into sync?
It seems there is a legitimate argument to make about whether or not Trier has negatively affected Arizona’s defense, but he is starting to put things together offensively.
For the second game in a row, Trier cracked the 20-point mark. His most notable improvement has been his jumpshot. The sophomore is now 8-of-11 from 3 in the last two games.
Also continuing his hot shooting was Jackson-Cartwright who started and drained three of his four 3-point attempts. The junior has made 15 of his last 23 3s.
Arizona returns to action Saturday when it hosts the No. 5 UCLA Bruins. Tip-off is set for 6:15 p.m. MST and it will be televised on ESPN.