Arizona improved to 24-3 with a 78-59win over Washington State. Here’s a closer look at what happened.
Co-Players of the Game:
Lauri Markkanen - The freshman finally got back on track after struggling for the last few games. Markkanen finished with 19 points, making 7 of 13 shots in the game. The Finn also pulled down 11 rebounds for a solid double-double performance. His return to form was key for the Wildcats getting going down the stretch.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright - The junior point guard got called on to start with Kadeem Allen out with an injury. The return to the starting rotation also marked their return of a confident bounce to his step. Jackson-Cartwright scored a career-high 20 points on the evening and dished out three assists as well.
* It took a majority of the first half, but Arizona finally flipped the offensive switch. Jackson-Cartwright hit two free throws before a Chance Comanche jumper and an Allonzo Trier three-pointer capped a quick 7-0 run. Washington State scored, but Jackson-Cartwright hit a long ball as the buzzer sounded and the Wildcats went into halftime leading 40-31.
* After being held scoreless for the entire first half, Kobi Simmons entered the game just four minutes into the second half and immediately hit back-to-back three-pointers. Keanu Pinder added two points off an offensive rebound and Comanche threw down and alley pop as the Wildcats went up 58-40 and never looked back.
The Wildcats came out to a slow start in the game in front of one of the smaller crowds that they will see all season long. I don't normally subscribe to the belief that energy lacking crowds bring down the energy of the players, but it was apparent that neither team was ready to get going straight from the tip. Eventually Arizona got things going and Markkanen being physical and aggressive in the paint early was a big reason that the Wildcats were able to pull ahead and stay ahead.
He didn't qualify for player of the game honors, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the game that Comanche had. Eight points and five rebounds is an extremely respectable line off the bench and the sophomore filled in nicely once Dusan Ristic left the game. Comanche has steadily developed and shows improvement from game to game, which is all that Arizona needs from him heading into the last stretch of the season.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"I've never been a part of a team that's been through more than we have," Miller said. "I've also never been a part of a group that's been as resilient, tough-minded, kind of find-a-way group that we've become."
"Sometimes it's one of those nights when the ball is going in," Jackson-Cartwright said. "I just credit my teammates for finding me. The basket just seemed to be much bigger tonight."