If ever given the opportunity to start for the Arizona Wildcats, Dylan Smith insisted he would take advantage of it.
For one night in Berkeley, that statement proved prophetic.
With Rawle Alkins sidelined with foot soreness, Smith scored 14 points and made all four 3s he took in Alkins’ place as Arizona routed the California Golden Bears 79-58 on Wednesday night.
That type of shot-making allowed Arizona to blow out Cal even though it wasn’t its sharpest.
The Wildcats committed a season-high 21 turnovers against Cal’s aggressive zone, but still created plenty of open looks, shooting 62 percent from the field and 11-19 from 3 to improve to 15-4 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-12.
Deandre Ayton tallied his 13th double-double, breaking the Arizona freshman record with 20 points (9-11 FG) and 11 rebounds. Michael Wright and Al Fleming were the previous recordholders.
Ayton had three dunks and one of them was the result of some of UA’s best ball movement all season:
This is one way to break a zone pic.twitter.com/t67P5v1dad— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) January 18, 2018
Parker Jackson-Cartwright sank four 3s and finished with 14 points and six assists. Allonzo Trier added 15 points (5-10 FG) and four assists.
Meanwhile, the Golden Bears were the Colden Bears, shooting 35 percent including a horrific 1-13 mark from 3.
They had a near-10-minute stretch in the second half in which they did not make a single shot.
The Bears did shoot 30 free throws to Arizona’s 13, but that was not nearly enough to allow them to overcome their shooting woes. Cal falls to 7-12 overall and 1-5 in the Pac-12.
Arizona led 36-26 halftime after 20 odd minutes of basketball.
The Wildcats were sloppy early on, committing 11 turnovers in the first half, including five in the first seven possessions. But when their possessions weren’t ending in giveaways they were making just about everything.
Arizona shot 70 percent from both the field and from 3 in the period. (weirdly, it shot just 1-5 from the charity stripe.)
Jackson-Cartwright hit three of Arizona’s seven 3s, Smith hit two, and Trier and Emmanuel Akot each hit one.
Akot played 15 minutes which were the most he has played since Nov. 23 against SMU. The freshman had three points, two rebounds, and three turnovers while providing a solid defensive effort.
Keanu Pinder had five rebounds in 11 minutes, but also four fouls. Arizona outrebound Cal 36-22.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday when they face the Stanford Cardinal (10-8, 4-1 Pac-12) in Palo Alto.
Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. MST on CBS. Arizona is hoping Alkins will be good to go.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire