The annual Red-Blue scrimmage is routinely a coming out party for Arizona’s newcomers, of which there are many this season between freshmen and transfers.
Yet it was one of the few returners—one who almost wasn’t going to be back—who stole the show on Friday night at McKale Center.
Devonaire Doutrive led all scorers with 15 points in helping the Blue team to a 46-32 win over the Red squad, this coming after the sophomore guard won the pregame dunk contest.
“I felt very comfortable,” said Doutrive, who briefly left the team during the offseason but opted to return in July. “It was no statement, I was just going out there doing what I had to do.”
Doutrive was 6 of 8 from the field and added seven rebounds and four assists, all game highs.
“What I like about him is he can contribute in a lot of ways for us,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “It’s too early to tell, but he could be the backup point guard. I think the next month will be interesting for Devonaire.”
Blue teammate Stone Gettings had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, while Max Hazzard led the Red squad with 11 points including three three-pointers.
Among the freshmen, Nico Mannion had nine points (on 2-of-7 shooting) with three assists, Christian Koloko had eight, Josh Green had seven and Zeke Nnaji went scoreless.
But the night was still a success for Nnaji after his rousing keyboard performance of the National Anthem prior to the scrimmage, which drew huge applause.
“It was better than I even imagined,” Nnaji said. “Fans brought crazy energy.”
Miller said no one should judge any of the freshmen on their Red-Blue performance, particularly Nnaji, noting that “there are a ton of players that, if you only judge them on that one night … you’ll be disappointed.”
Arizona only had 11 scholarship players available, as fifth-year senior Chase Jeter sat out with a groin strain. Sophomore Brandon Williams also didn’t play following summer knee surgery that will keep him out this season.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Miller said of Jeter, who has battled injuries throughout his college career, both at Arizona and Duke.
The Red-Blue game was held two weeks earlier than normal this year, something Miller said was meant to help with his retooled team’s development but also as a recruiting tool. Numerous prospects were on hand at McKale, and Miller indirectly addressed them prior to the game.
“Let’s make sure that our team, and anybody who’s visiting here tonight, who might one day think about coming to this place, really understands just how special McKale Center is,” Miller said.
Miller also took a moment to honor Arizona superfan/booster George Kalil, who passed away over the summer. A drum was placed on Kalil’s seat, just behind the Wildcats bench.
“I remember coming here 11 years ago, we had our first Red-Blue game, I looked over my left shoulder, and as I did, as Coach (Lute) Olson did … you always saw the friendliest face you could ever see at a basketball game,” Miller said.
Arizona now hits the grind on the practice court, out of eyesight, before facing Chico State in an exhibition on Nov. 1. Prior to that will be a closed scrimmage against Saint Mary’s.
The 2019-20 season opener is Nov. 6 at home against Northern Arizona.