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NCAA Tournament results: Arizona defeats North Dakota 100-82 in first round

Next up: Saint Mary’s

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Arizona vs North Dakota Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

That’s what a 2-seed should do to a 15-seed.

The Arizona Wildcats took advantage of an undersized North Dakota Fighting Hawks team in resounding fashion on Thursday, taking their NCAA Tournament first round game by a score of 100-82.

This was the first time Arizona scored 100 points in a tournament game since 2001.

Next up on the schedule will be the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday in the Round of 32. SMC beat VCU 85-77 in their first round game.

UND actually started this game well, leading 12-11 at one point. It was clear they wanted to push the ball, and it had the Wildcats on their heels for a little bit.

But then Arizona settled in, going on a 13-1 run to open up a nice lead that would hold true from that point forward.

At half, the Wildcats led 53-37, which was the most points they have put up in a first half since the 2015 first round game against Texas Southern.

But the defense wasn’t there:

The offense just kept going from there aside from a blip about six minutes into the second half. North Dakota was able to cut the lead back down to seven at one point thanks to a run where they made eight of nine shots.

But the Wildcats recovered quickly thanks in large part to a Kadeem Allen traditional three-point play that made the lead ten (71-61). That was the beginning of what ended up being a 12-0/18-4 run, and was also the first time Arizona looked like a good defensive team on Thursday.

Here are some takeaways from this one:

Maker’s Markk

Against a small team like North Dakota, Arizona’s best bet was to go inside, and the man who did this early and often was Lauri Markkanen.

The All-Pac-12 freshman had 16 points and six rebounds (three offensive)....in the first half. He wound up with 20 points in this one, his eighth 20+ point game of the year. If Lauri’s firing on all cylinders, watch out.

Rawle’s Rolling

You could argue that Rawle Alkins was Arizona’s second-best player in the Pac-12 Tournament last week, and he kept right on going through his first NCAA Tournament game.

Alkins was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field in the first half, had a few rebounds, and even came up with a big block on a UND drive to the rim. He was also probably the best defender the Wildcats had in general over the course of this game.

If you were worried about the Arizona freshmen having wide eyes in their first NCAA environment, well, don’t worry about that now. Alkins ended up a perfect 8-of-8 from the field, good for 20 points. His 19th and 20th points of the night put the Wildcats at the century mark in the scoring column.

Parker’s Popping

You know that thing where Parker Jackson-Cartwright is good at shooting the long ball in conference play and beyond?

Yep, still a thing.

Since going o-for-5 from three point range at USC on January 19th, PJC has made 23 of his 36 total attempts from beyond the arc, which is good for 63.8%.

Dusan Drags Early

The one Wildcat that didn’t score a point in the first half? That would be seven-footer Dusan Ristic.

Ristic did score the team’s first four points in the second half and finished with 12 total, but it was a bit strange and concerning to see him struggle in the early going against a team that was so undersized compared to the Wildcats.

It looked like Dusan had shaken off his ankle injury in Las Vegas, but once again, he was just a step slow on defense more often than not. This could be an issue on Saturday against St. Mary’s and Jock Landale. Landale was able to post 18 points and 13 rebounds against VCU, and looked like the kind of player that has given Arizona problems throughout the season.

Arizona will need the good, second half version of Ristic on Saturday against the Gaels.