In a game that saw Arizona have three 20-point scorers for the first time in almost 13 years, it was a guy who had a rather pedestrian 13 points that was the true MVP.
That’s because in addition to putting up those 13 in Monday’s 95-79 win over Washington, which tied a career high, Dalen Terry also registered career bests in rebounds (11) and assists (eight).
“Dalen’s a do-all player,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said afterward.
Terry, who came in averaging 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists, was 5 of 9 from the field. He also made 2 of 3 3-pointers, belying his team-worst 23.8 percent shooting from outside and completely dismissing the New Year’s resolution suggested by one clearly misguided writer.
The 6-foot-7 sophomore is only the second Division I player this season to go for 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists while hitting two 3s, the other Nevada’s Grant Sherfield against D-II Minnesota-Duluth. No Arizona player has done that in the past 12 seasons, and had Terry dished out two more assists he’d have produced the Wildcats’ first triple-double since Andre Iguodala went for 14, 11 and 10 in 2004.
Terry entered the night having made only 4 of his past 20 3s, yet during a 39-second span early in the first half he drained triples on consecutive possessions.
“He’s been working really hard in his shot,” Lloyd said. “We’ve kind of been doing some tweaks here and there and I just told him, ‘Listen, we don’t need to stress out about it because you do so many other things well. Let’s not forget about those and just focus on maybe something that’s not your strength.’ To see him knock down a couple of threes I think was great for our team and great for his confidence.”
Point guard Kerr Kriisa said he’s noticed that teams have been going under screens on Terry, a sign they don’t respect his shot.
“I’m telling you, you can’t go under this man,” Kriisa said. “So I think he proved today that he can shoot the ball. And he’s just got to keep working on it he’ll be fine.”
Terry’s eight assists resulted in 20 UA points, including three of Kriisa’s 6 3-pointers en route to his career-high 21 points and a pair of Christian Koloko baskets as part of his career high-tying 22.
“Dalen gets guy shots,” Lloyd said. “He gets guys good shots and he’s a big guy, he’s able to make penetrating passes. You guys know, I love 2-point shots, and he gets a lot of great action around the basket, and he’s really getting really good in transition. And then against that zone, he and Kerr kind of had a nice little connection going there. That zone, (Washington) can kind of play off non-shooters and extend on shooters. They adjust on that zone, so they did a good job. Kerr did a great job of having his feet ready and knocking down some tough, half-contested threes, but those are some shots you got to shoot against Washington.”
And the 11 rebounds, which were three more than in any previous game? That was a direct result of Lloyd pulling Terry and backup wing Pelle Larsson aside and challenging them to get better on the boards, and the pair responded.
“I think they had 19 rebounds between them today,” Lloyd said. “So the message was received and they get all the credit for going out there and making it happen.”
Terry now averages 6.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists, something only Iguodala and Luke Walton (twice) have averaged in a season at UA in the past 30 seasons.