Arizona finished the regular season with a record of 26-4 after a 73-60 win over ASU. Here’s a closer look at what happened.
Player of the Game:
Rawle Alkins - The freshman came off the bench and collected his second career double-double. Alkins scored 11 points and pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds. Alkins' play is one of the main reasons that Arizona was in the game during the first half and pulled away in the second half.
* Arizona clung to a one point lead at halftime thanks to a Keanu Pinder free-throw before the end of the half. That changed as the teams swapped baskets in the second half. The Wildcats hit their first three shots, starting with a Pinder layup. Kadeem Allen followed with a step back three-pointer and Allonzo Trier hit a shot in the lane for an eight-point lead.
* The Sun Devils attempted to get back in the game with eight minutes remaining as Torian Graham hit a three-pointer to cut the lead down to 55-47. Arizona came down the court and had Trier nail a long ball of his own. Two plays later and Lauri Markkanen drove the baseline for a dunk over Kodi Justice and a 62-49 lead.
* Arizona put the game away with just over a minute to go. Justice hit a three-pointer to bring the deficit to ten points and the Sun Devils forced two Arizona timeouts with a full-court press. ASU fouled Trier and he made both of his free throws as the Wildcats were able to shut the door.
Another game, another win for Arizona in which it had to rely on a different combination of players to step up. Lauri Markkanen, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, and Kobi Simmons all suffered from foul trouble in the game and were only able to contribute in limited amounts. Instead, Alkins and Pinder were the two that took over for the Wildcats. Pinder' defensive effort really changed the game for the Wildcats and helped them get the win.
Markkanen is most likely the most talented player to play in an Arizona uniform under Sean Miller, but over the last nine games he has hit just 5 of his 31 shots from beyond the arc, including three air balls against Arizona State. It is concerning because a lot of those missed shots seem to have to do with a lack of leg energy, which is not likely to get better over the next few weeks. It takes away a very big part of his game and an extra offensive weapon in the Arizona offense if he is not able to return to form.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"It's really an amazing group of kids that we have," Miller said. "I don't know if any team I've been a part of has seen more adversity, more things to overcome and handle as well as this team has."
"We heard about it a lot, so we decided to make a conscious effort to rebound better this game," Trier said . "Rebound and play defense is what we do."