Arizona improved to 5-0 with a 69-61win over Santa Clara on Friday night. Here's a closer look at what happened:
Player of the Game:
Parker Jackson-Cartwright - It may not seem like it to most, but the junior point guard was the biggest difference in the game for Arizona. I thought about giving this to Kobi Simmons, but he struggled mightily on defense throughout the night, while Jackson-Cartwright had a much better all around game. Arizona doesn't win without either, but the point guard finished with seven points, five assists, and four rebounds.
* Midway through the first half, Alkins was able to give Arizona a big boost as he got a put back basket in the lane and picked up the foul from Henrik Jadersten. It was the big man's third foul of the game. The ensuing free throw put the Wildcats up 25-19, but sent Santa Clara's leading scorer up to that point to the bench.
* Both teams traded shots in the first half, with each team going on short runs. Arizona was able to stay ahead through the break and was able to get some space on the scoreboard early on in the second half. Ristic scored back-to-back baskets before Chance Comanche put in a free throw putting Arizona up 42-36 after giving Jadersten his fourth foul.
* With ten minutes left in the game, Arizona got a big shot from Lauri Markkanen, popping out to hit a three-pointer. It gave the Wildcats a nine-point lead, but it didn't last long. Jarvis Pugh answered with a three of his own to cut the lead back to six. Comanche scored inside, but Nate Kratch hit a long ball of his own to push the lead down to just five.
* The biggest shot of the game came late in the game from freshman Kobi Simmons. After a deep ball from Santa Clara made it a three-point game, Simmons dribbled towards the basket and hit a fadeaway jumper as the shot clock wound down to give the Wildcats a 66-61 lead. Santa Clara did not score for the remaining 2:58 and Arizona went on to win.
Arizona played about as well as it could offensively and it is easy to see that the team's ceiling is extremely high. With that being said, the defense in the first half was lacking, especially by Simmons on Jared Brownridge. In the second half, the Wildcats clamped down and were able to do a better job shutting down the Broncos, but there are still weaknesses there.
I didn't want to make this a negative section because I thought Arizona played well on a neutral court and did the things that it needed to do. However several players looked tired and winded midway through the second half. The Wildcats are hurting with depth right now. That is alleviated slightly if Allonzo Trier returnd, but even with him back the Wildcats are going to need to make sure that they are getting plenty of rest as the season wears on.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"I thought Santa Clara did an excellent job on offense being patient and moving the ball," Miller said. "Obviously have an outstanding guard in Brownridge.
"Sometimes you do a great job and a guy is a really good player and a team does a real nice job executing against your defense. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. i thought our team did a much better job this year guarding him than last year."