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3 up, 3 down in Arizona’s loss at Colorado

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Deandre Ayton was good. The rest of the team? Not so much

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats had their nine-game winning streak snapped by the Colorado Buffaloes, 80-77, in Boulder on Saturday.

Arizona fell behind by as many as 20 points in the first half before making things interesting in the second half.

Our full recap can be found here, and here are some positive and negative takeaways from the game.


3 up

Deandre Ayton

Ayton was actually benched in the first half after looking disinterested on defense, but he clearly received Sean Miller’s message and went on to destroy worlds in the second half — on both ends of the floor.

Ayton scored 19 of his 26 points in the final 20 minutes, and did so on an efficient 11-17 shooting, including a made 3. Plus, he had two blocks and a steal.

Here are some ridiculous things Ayton did:

Dusan Ristic had more field goal attempts than Ayton for most of the game which didn’t make a whole lot of sense since Colorado had no way of slowing Ayton down.

And Ayton only had five field goal attempts in the first half which was costly since Arizona only shot 30 percent in the period, which led to a 16-point deficit.

It might be easier said than done, but Arizona needs to find a way to get Ayton a touch on every trip down the floor.

Emmanuel Akot

Hey, he played!

It is hard to find many bright spots from this game, but Akot getting some run was one.

The freshman, who has been dealing with knee tendinitis, was subbed in when Sean Miller emptied UA’s bench during that disastrous first half.

Akot immediately hit a 3 and finished with an assist and a steal in the final five minutes of the period, but he only played one minute in the second half.

If not for his health, I don’t really see a reason why Miller isn’t making more of an effort to integrate Akot into the rotation. It’s not like the rest of the bench is doing much.

Resiliency

As poorly as Arizona played, you do have to give it some credit for fighting back. The Wildcats were down at 20 at one point in the first half and looked lifelesss, but managed to only lose by three.

Moral victories suck, but losing a close one on the road is still better than, say, that Oregon game last year where Arizona got eviscerated for 40 minutes.

And for a while there, it looked like this game was heading that direction.


3 down

Allonzo Trier

This was a really strange game offensively for Trier — and by strange, I also mean bad.

The junior settled almost exclusively for 3s. He was 2-8 from beyond the arc and only took one shot inside it which was this circus shot that somehow went down.

Trier also didn’t attempt a single free throw for the first time since..... the loss to Xavier in the Sweet 16 last year. So that is a pretty bad omen.

Trier’s willingness to fire away from the perimeter against Colorado’s zone hurt because Arizona’s offense was unable to get anything going toward the rim, and usually that is Trier’s specialty.

Arizona’s defense

Arizona’s offense was uncharacteristically awful (though some might disagree because Arizona has struggled against zone defense before), and its defense simply was not — and hasn’t been — good enough to allow the Wildcats to weather the storm.

Colorado shot 64 percent in the first half to take a 16-point lead at the break, and it’s not like the Buffaloes were getting easy baskets off turnovers. Arizona only committed seven all game. Colorado was just tearing apart UA’s half-court defense, killing it with dribble penetration and sharp shooting.

Ristic and Trier were particularly ineffective on that end of the floor, and so was Ayton in the first half.

One problem this Arizona team has, and it probably won’t go away because of its personnel, is that it can’t guard off the dribble. Quick guards like Utah’s Justin Bibbins and Colorado’s McKinley Wright IV gave the Wildcats fits on this road trip.

Alex Barcello

Barcello is unplayable at this point.

The freshman was another player who had issues defending off the dribble, and he continued his offensive struggles, shooting 0-2 from the field, including an air-balled pull-up jumper.

Since the start of the Bahamas trip, Barcello has gone scoreless in seven of the 11 games he has played in, and he has not made a 3 in over a month.

While Barcello is the most natural fit to be Arizona’s backup point guard, he hasn’t played well enough to earn that role.

Injuries are no longer an excuse, either, since Miller said earlier in the week that Barcello is completely recovered from his left ankle injury.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire