Arizona improved to 25-3 with a 90-77 win over USC. Here’s a closer look at what happened.
Player of the Game:
Allonzo Trier - The sophomore had a season-high 25 points in the win over USC. Trier hit seven of eleven shots, including four of six from down town. The guard hit a shot as the horn sounded to close the first half and give the Wildcats momentum. Trier also grabbed four rebounds in the game, but his scoring effort was a major factor in the victory.
* Arizona struggled to get things going early in the first half and USC was able to take a sizable advantage, leading by as many as nine. The Wildcats whittled down the lead little by little and were able to take the lead back with three-pointers from Kobi Simmons and Trier, whos also added a three at the buzzer as the Wildcats led 44-39 at halftime.
* The second half went a little better for Arizona as the Wildcats began to build a lead. Parker Jackson-Cartwright hit a three ball to put the Wildcats up 56-49 and was followed by a Chimezie Metu dunk. Arizona then got a layup from Rawle Alkins and a hook shot from Dusan Ristic to bolster a nine-point lead.
* Late in the game, USC tried to make a push to get back in the game, cutting the Arizona lead down to nine with nearly two minutes remaining in the game. Jackson-Cartwright blocked Bennie Boatwright underneath the basket right into Trier's hands as Arizona scored on the next play and never looked back.
The Wildcats actually chose not to play defense for a good portion of the first half and it is difficult to win games that way. To their credit they picked it up for the most part in the closing minutes and a majority of the second half. There were still some head-scratching plays, but the effort was there and it was the deciding factor in why Arizona was able to win.
McKale Center collectively held its breath late in the first half when Simmons hit the deck. The freshmen was starting to hit his stride, making two straight three-pointers before he landed wrong and grasped at his ankle. Simmons limped to the locker room, but returned in the second half and played sparingly. Arizona may not have needed the freshman to hold off USC, but will need him to beat UCLA on Saturday.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"Allonzo is a really, really improved 3-point shooter," Miller said. "It's just his path this year, missing 19 games and coming back. It's taking him a little bit of time to really show how much better of a 3-point shooter he is, but he did a really good job out there."
"Every game allows me to get more comfortable," Trier said. "This late in the season you start hitting your peak and playing your best basketball and I'm kind of still really early compared to everybody else."