The Arizona Wildcats held off the Oregon State Beavers 75-65 on Thursday night, hours after learning the NCAA declared Allonzo Trier ineligible for testing positive for a banned substance.
No. 14 Arizona (22-6, 12-3) had arguably their most inefficient offensive output of the season, caused certainly in part by the unexpected ruling on Trier.
Let’s take a look at 3 up and 3 down from a narrow victory for the Cats .
Rawle Alkins shook off a poor shooting night with two clutch free throws to send the game to OT, then sank a pair of triples in the extra period. Alkins has struggled at times with his jump shot this season and they’ll need him to start ramping up his scoring with Trier out.
Alkins finished with 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting, and also had a season-high eight boards, including two in the final three minutes, giving Arizona the few extra possessions they needed to avoid an upset.
The officials definitely took some of the air out of the game, whistling 15 fouls in the final 10:34 of regulation, but Arizona still put the clamps on defensively to seal this victory.
Oregon State had only two field goals in the 15 minutes of the game, and scored just four points to Arizona’s 14 in OT.
Deandre Ayton continued his quest toward being the top overall selection in June’s NBA Draft. Anyone else excited for Lauri Markkanen and Deandre Ayton in the 2019 Rising Stars World Team? Ayton posted another full line on Thursday including 19 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal.
His 18th double double of the season tied him with fellow Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 member Marvin Bagley III and Seton Hall’s Angelo Delgado for fifth in the country in.
Although Ayton connected on only one of his four jump shots, he still had his usual dunks and tip-ins to finish 7-of-12 from the field and threw in five of his six free throws.
His efficiency has helped Arizona lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (51 percent), which is the fifth best mark in the nation. Ayton ranks 17th nationally, shooting just over 60 percent from the floor, trailing only Utah’s David Collette within the the Pac-12. Collette made all nine of his shots in a six-point victory over UCLA on Thursday. The Bruins are now three back of Arizona in the loss column.
Arizona secured 38 rebounds to OSU’s 30, improving on the nation’s 17th-best rebounding margin per game (6.9/g).
Arizona out rebounded their opponent for the 24th time this season, and their eighth straight since last being out boarded by Reid Travis and company on Jan. 20.
The Wildcats’ 12 offensive rebounds definitely helped them on a night where they struggled to find their shot.
As Arizona adjusts to life without Trier, they’ll need all those extra possessions. Tonight it saved them from an embarrassing loss in Corvallis.
Arizona had a season low 11 assists and struggled to find open shooters throughout the night. The ball seemed to stick a bit more on the perimeter without Trier, and Arizona had to rely on throwing it into their bigs, instead of swinging it around the perimeter.
It wasn’t just Trier’s 3.2 assists that Arizona missed. Coming into Thursday’s game, Trier accounted for just about 20 percent of Arizona’s field goal attempts. Opponents need to respect Trier’s scoring ability and his drives would often start a chain of passes that lead to open assisted shots.
Replacing Trier will be a group effort. Alex Barcello, Emmanuel Akot, Dylan Smith, Brandon Randolph, and Ira Lee (once he returns from his concussion) should all see more minutes, but as Thursday showed, roles will also be adjusted for Arizona starters as well.
Free Throw and 3-Point Shooting
Arizona also had one of its worst shooting nights of the season, making just five 3s and missing one-third of their free throws.
Arizona is going to need to find some outside shooting presence to prevent teams from really packing it in on its post scoring. Arizona had zero 3s made in the second half, and subsequently OSU was able to make a run, erasing a lead that was as large as 12 in the first half.
The free throw shooting is also alarming for two reasons. Arizona just lost their best free throw shooter in Trier. He was close to a top-50 ranking nationally in free throws made (134) and Arizona’s most clutch shooter from the stripe (85 percent).
Secondly, Pac-12 refs seem to have a propensity for calling a high volume of fouls, including 39 in Thursday’s game.
Arizona is good at getting to the line, drawing 20 or more fouls in five of their conference games. They’ll need to hit more than the 66 percent they fired against OSU to win any close games in March, though.
Although Arizona is hopeful they have a couple talented freshman to step up in Trier’s absence, they are going to need more from their elder statesman should Trier miss an extended period of time.
Keanu Pinder has yet to score in double figures in his Arizona career, and his four points on one shot attempt was uninspiring yet again. If Pinder is going to leave any sort of legacy it’s time for him to break out of his shell and play with a little tenacity.
For only the fourth time this season Parker Jackson-Cartwright had more turnovers than assists. He’s 24th nationally, and second in the conference with a 2.87 assist to turnover ratio, but shouldering more of the scoring load tonight didn’t go so well as he only had three makes from the field and was 1-6 from 3-point range.