Trier leads No. 3 Arizona past Cal State Bakersfield
TUCSON, Ariz. — No. 3 Arizona went into Thursday night’s game hitting 60 percent of its shots for the young season.
It came close to that against Cal State Bakersfield in its 91-59 win against the Roadrunners at McKale Center.
It was Arizona’s 43rd consecutive nonconference win at home, which is the third-longest active streak.
Arizona shot 55 percent from the floor, including 62 percent from the floor in the second half.
“I loved way our guys moved the ball against the zone, the confidence,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We created great shots through team play. That’s been one of our early-season emphasis. We trying to be as comfortable as we can possibly be with changing defenses.
Allonzo Trier, who went 8 for 9 from the floor, was two points shy of becoming the first Arizona player to score at least 30 points in each of the first three games of the season. Trier and Deandre Ayton were removed with 4:37 left in the game.
“Allonzo makes us very efficient,” Miller said. “Great offensive players make the team look good. Right now that’s how he’s playing.”
Miller also said he didn’t know Trier was closing on another 30-point game.
“I didn’t know that,” Miller said. “I wish I would have known that. But he didn’t miss three free throws, so ‘had I known I would have kept him in. And believe me he would have found a way to get two more points, I’m sure.”
Arizona (3-0) looked in midseason form midway through the second half when it went on an 8-0 run via a pass-the-ball-around exhibition. Emmanuel Akot hit a 3-pointer to make it 65-41 with 11:49 left. It was Arizona’s sixth consecutive make to help put the game away.
“Our team chemistry is pretty good,” Ayton said. “We know how each other plays and now each other’s personalities.”
Arizona ended the half outscoring Bakersfield 20-7 in the final eight minutes.
Ayton, a 7-foot-1 freshman, had one of his more non-descript games and still had his third consecutive double-double to begin the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Fellow 7-footer Dusan Ristic had 12 points and six rebounds. He was an efficient 4 of 6 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line.
“It was hard to guard those guys,” Bakersfield coach Rod Barnes said. “They have really good guys at every position. They’re patient and have good chemistry.”
Senior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright added a season-high 11 points for Arizona.
Freshman Jarkel Joiner led Bakersfield with 14 points.
Still, Barnes was happy with what he saw.
“That’s the one thing I complimented them on,” said Barnes when asked if he thought his team grew up in the loss. “I thought our big guys kind of grew up tonight. I thought our guys really battled those guys. We made some strides, (even against) the No. 3 team in the country. They are extremely good.”
In the first half, Arizona did it early and late to take control of the game. Arizona used a 13-0 run at the start of the game to take a 15-8 lead in the early minutes. It extended its lead to 23-11, hitting seven of eight shots in that stretch to slowly pull away. CSUB (1-2) didn’t help itself by going 0 of 6 in that same stretch.
By the 3:49 mark, the Wildcats extended the lead to 36-19.
Arizona was led in the first half by Trier, who had 14 points in the half.
Jackson-Cartwright excited the crowd at the end of the half by hitting a half-court shot to give UA a 44-27 lead.
NOTES: Arizona signed F Shareef O’Neal to financial-aid papers. Last week, recruit Brandon Williams signed financial-aid papers to attend Arizona. Neither signing is binding but it constitutes Arizona’s early recruiting class in the wake of the on-going FBI investigation. ... Rod Barnes has a history with UA. He faced the Wildcats in 2001 as the head coach at Mississippi when the two teams faced one another in San Antonio in the Sweet 16. Arizona advanced to the Final Four that season.