He played no small part in the W, leading Arizona in scoring with 21 points and five boards, 15 of those points coming in the first half.
It was Ristic’s 111th career win, passing Kaleb Tarczewski and Matt Muehlebach on the all-time leaderboard.
“It means a lot,” Ristic said afterward. “It means a lot as a result of my hard work, and as a result of the culture of this program, of all of the players that I have played with since my freshman year, all the way through this year. And I’m just privileged that I have accomplished something like that at this program. So it’s something that’s going to stay forever in my life, and I’m just happy about it.”
It may go down as a footnote for Arizona basketball on what was a wild day — Sean Miller finally spoke out against the wiretap allegations and returned as head coach, while Allonzo Trier was reinstated from his PED suspension — but it shouldn’t.
Ristic has gone from the tall guy with rather robotic-like movements from Serbia who averaged less than nine minutes a game as a freshman to a sweet-shooting, smooth-around-the-rim, throwing-up-a-triangle-over-his-head-after-3-pointers senior leader.
“For (all) the great seniors ... that have won championships and so many big games, I think that’s a testament not only to the type of player Dusan has become, but also the type of young man that he is,” Miller said. “He’s really one of a kind. So for him to do that on a night like tonight really brought it all together for us.”
Ristic’s hard work shows in his stats from year to year as his points and rebounds have steadily improved as each season has gone by.
As a freshman, Ristic averaged just 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per game. He didn’t see the floor in the team’s Elite Eight loss. In his sophomore year, the 7-footer played in all 34 games, including nine starts, and chipped in 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds.
Last year, Ristic eclipsed the double-digit mark in points per game, putting up 10.9 and adding 5.5 rebounds while starting 34 of the team’s 37 games.
This season, Ristic is piling up 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 58 percent from the floor. But his play against conference opponents has really been the story in his grand finale.
In 17 Pac-12 games this season, Ristic set his career-high and had his three best scoring efforts in an Arizona uniform – Thursday’s 21, 23 against Utah in late January, and 21 against Washington in early February.
In all, Ristic is averaging 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds against Pac-12 foes, giving him a shot at making the All-Conference team.
And the season isn’t over so Ristic has plenty of time to add on to his new record and create some separation between himself and other Arizona legends.
Between the regular season finale and the postseason tournaments, he’s got a chance at 10 more victories as a Wildcat. If Ristic gets those 10, we might have to rename the city Dusan, Arizona — even just for a day.