Arizona went on the road to UCLA on Saturday and matched a season-high in scoring with a 95-86 win. Here’s a closer look at what happened.
Player of the Game:
Kobi Simmons - The freshman played the best game of his college career and it came in the biggest game of the season thus far. Simmons scored a career-high 20 points in the victory with several big shots coming while both teams were trading blows. The guard also finished with six rebounds and five assists to just one turnover. Simmons was called for a controversial technical foul in the second half for taunting, but it didn't impact the game.
* Arizona and UCLA battled it out in a fast-paced scoring flurry over the first six minutes of the game. Rawle Alkins' second foul of the day sent the game to the first media timeout and allowed Sean Miller to sub Allonzo Trier into the game for the first time this season trailing 16-13. Arizona used the momentum to capitalize on a 8-0 run capped by a Parker Jackson-Cartwright three pointer to go up 18-16.
* The Wildcats and Bruins traded powerful punches for the entirety of the first half. Arizona called a timeout with a little over a minute to go in the half and drew up a drive and kick for Jackson-Cartwright to Trier for his first three ball of the season. Trier followed it up with a free throw and took the ball coast-to-coast to a lay up as time expired as the Wildcats went into the locker room leading 48-37.
* As the second half wound down, UCLA had cut into Arizona's lead little by little getting it down to four with nine minutes remaining. The Wildcats fought back with an Alkins' lay up and a Trier dunk in transition sandwiching an Aaron Holiday free throw. After the dunk, Holiday was called for an offensive foul and Arizona made it count as Lauri Markkanen nailed a three and pushed the lead to 81-71.
* Arizona held the ball while the clock went under a minute remaining and Jackson-Cartwright drove the lane as the shot clock ticked off. His shot was low and hit the bottom of the backboard, but Markkanen was there to grab the rebound and slam it home. He was fouled in the process and the ensuing free throw put the Wildcats up 92-83. Bryce Alford air-balled a three and Trier and Simmons each added two free throws to ice the game.
This was one heck of a game. Arizona showed up, played 40 minutes and dominated UCLA. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Bruins by nine, had 14 more bench points, and shot five-percent better for the game. Arizona's defense tired superstar Lonzo Ball for the final minutes of the game and limited the scoring threats of T.J. Leaf and Alford.
There was a moment in the second half where it looked like Arizona was going to give it all away, letting UCLA get within two possessions, but solid defense and aggressive scoring moves helped the Wildcats regain control. Part of that was the return of Trier, who scored 12, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out four assists. The other part was Arizona's ability to attack the basket. The Wildcats went back to the aggressive attack that got them the lead and it paid off with a huge victory.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"I don't think we win without him," Miller said of Trier. "It means a lot, especially for this team and his family."
"It's a big win. It means a lot them being ranked No. 3," Markkanen said. "We knew their transition offense was really tough. We focused on getting back after crashing the offensive glass. It worked extremely well at times."