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Arizona basketball: Kobi Simmons falling out of the Wildcats’ rotation

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Simmons playing time continues to decrease as the postseason wears on

Colorado v Arizona Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats are set to face the UCLA Bruins for a third time on Friday and it wasn’t too long ago when Kobi Simmons crossed up Bryce Alford on his way to a 20-point outing against the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.

Simmons was a star in that game as Arizona upset UCLA in Westwood, but that was on Jan. 21. It’s now March 10 and the outlook for Simmons has drastically shifted.

Things have gone downhill for Simmons since that victory.

In the last 12 games, the freshman has only scored in double figures twice and in the last two games he has only played 11 minutes (!) combined.

In the last five games, Simmons is 5 for 26 from the field. Currently, his field goal percentage is barely above 40 percent while his 3-point percentage is at 34 percent.

What changed?

Well, the Pac-12 Network has a theory. They call it the “Trier Effect”.

As you can see, Simmons has not been the same player since Allonzo Trier returned from suspension — at least from a numbers perspective.

Simmons’ production and playing time have diminished with Trier back in the rotation, not to mention it cost Simmons his spot in Arizona’s starting lineup.

“Everyone is losing minutes and we just got to buy in and look at the bigger picture,” Rawle Alkins said after Simmons played six minutes in Arizona’s win over Colorado on Thursday.

“That’s all I tell [Kobi]. With team success comes individual success. … I couldn’t tell you how many minutes he played, but every time he’s on the court I just tell him to do what he does. Make plays for others, make the right plays, score, just play with that energy that we need because we need him.”

Simmons, who said he does not think he is struggling at the moment, has seemingly bought in to what Alkins, his roommate, has been telling him.

“Just stick with it,” Simmons said of his current mindset. “Whether I play or not, just stick with it … just be about the team. I’m not a selfish guy at all, I just care about winning.”

Even before Trier was reinstated, Simmons was no stranger to inconsistency. Head coach Sean Miller said back in January that of the team’s three freshmen, Simmons is the one that experiences the most “peaks and valleys” in his performance.

But not only is his performance in a “valley” right now, so is his playing time. And with Keanu Pinder making his way back into the rotation, it might stay like that as the postseason continues.

That said, Simmons has proven before that he can snap out of a slump just as quickly as he can get himself into one. Who knows, maybe he will come up big for the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.

He could certainly see it happening.

“I don’t feel like I’m in a slump at all,” Simmons said. “Whenever my name gets called and I get more playing time, I’ll be ready.”


You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire