Arizona just doesn’t lose to WSU in basketball.
That’s part of the rules of the universe.
It’s tough to tell how good a team is when their opponent is so outmatched, but let’s do our best by looking at the best and worst from the game that gave Arizona a 9-1 Pac-12 record.
1. First half double-doubles
Deandre Ayton had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
In the first half.
Ayton sealed his double-double two minutes prior to the teams heading to the locker room for the mandatory mid-game break. That’s how absurd his first half was and how lackluster WSU is in the big man category this year.
This was quite the coincidence since I was eating a double-double (worse in Texas than Arizona/California but still good) during the first half.
In-N-Out has magical powers.
But back to basketball. Ayton had 25 points on just 12 shots (11 makes) and brought down 11 rebounds. He also had two blocks, and has now had the most prolific shot-blocking season any player has had under Sean Miller at Arizona.
Ayton against a team like that is just unfair.
2. Savage Bench
After sitting out three of the last four games due to foot soreness, Rawle Alkins was back on Wednesday.
But it was off the bench.
And that seems to be the best thing.
Dylan Smith got the start, with Rawle coming off the bench during the first media timeout. Alkins started slow, but then quickly caught fire, draining three straight treys in the span of 1:09.
Alkins finished the night with 16 points in just 16 minutes, and was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Maybe it’s best that he come off the bench and give this team a lift after the first media timeout? Maybe?
3. Freshmen floor time
In a game like this, it’s a good time to get some dudes some game time that haven’t had very much lately.
So there was a lineup of all freshmen at the end of the game, and perhaps it will give them some confidence moving forward. You know that Arizona is going to have to turn to someone who doesn’t play much down the stretch (see Keanu Pinder in last year’s Pac-12 Tournament).
Finally having a blowout and getting some fresh faces on the court is only a good thing.
1. And they’re off
Slowly....very, very slowly.
Getting pushed to the rail in the back of the pack slowly.
Fortunately, Washington State is no good and Arizona was able to overcome five turnovers in the first 10 or so minutes. The Wildcats went on a 33-14 run to put the game away after WSU had tied the game at 20 with 11:51 left in the first half.
If there was ever a game you’d expect Arizona to start sluggish, it’s a late Wednesday game in Pullman. The only thing that concerns me about it is that if something like that happens in the tournament against a potential double-digit seed, that could give that team some confidence, and all of a sudden Arizona is in a dogfight to avoid the upset.
2. Ernie Kent
Let’s go ahead and get a coach in Pullman that can maybe develop a halfway decent basketball team. Kent is not the guy anymore.
Malachi Flynn started this game on the bench, the first time in his two collegiate seasons that he did not start. It looked as though he might have the same kind of impact Alkins had coming off the bench, but that was shortlived, and Kent should be having his best players on the floor as much as possible in games like this.
It’s not like you’re in the NBA tanking for Ayton or Marvin Bagley III.
3. Free throw shooting
The only real complaint you can have with Arizona’s performance is what happened at the charity stripe.
UA was only 12-of-22 from the free throw line. Ira Lee was 1-for-6. There’s your negative from an overall positive night for this team. Good night.