Arizona appeared to enter the Battle 4 Atlantis as an immensely talented young team with very few holes, only to find out there were more cracks in its armor than it could fix during the three-day tournament. The Wildcats, who went from No. 4 last week to unranked this week following their first three-game losing streak since February of 2010, try to get back on track Wednesday when they return home to face Long Beach State.
Keyed by three straight explosive scoring outbursts from Allonzo Trier and the impressive play of 7-1 freshman DeAndre Ayton, Arizona crushed three mid-major schools by an average of 30.3 points before leaving for the Bahamas. Upon arrival, the tournament-favorite Wildcats were exposed as a team lacking offensive balance (Trier and Ayton accounted for 123 of the team’s 208 points during the event) that struggled from long-range (22 percent 3-point shooting) or defend (allowed at least 89 points twice). Arizona will try to avoid its first four-game skid since 2009 - the year before coach Sean Miller’s arrival - against the 49ers, who are coming off a 1-2 showing and a sixth-place finish at the Advocare Invitational. The Wildcats will be the sixth consecutive power-conference opponent for Long Beach State, which sandwiched losses to Missouri and Nebraska around a win against Oregon State during its stay in Florida.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT LONG BEACH STATE (3-4): Senior forward Gabe Levin (team-high averages of 15.1 points and 9.4 rebounds) secured his second double-double of the season against the Cornhuskers with 22 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Junior guard Deishuan Booker (8.7 points, 6.3 assists) committed 10 turnovers against Nebraska but has 12 assists in each of his last two outings and, with his 27 assists over the course of the Advocare Invitational, he tied the tournament record in the 12-year history of the event. Preseason All-Big West first-team selection Temidayo Yussuf did not play in the first four games of the season and was eased back into action during the Advocare Invitational, averaging 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in only 11.3 minutes of action.
ABOUT ARIZONA (3-3): Injuries played a role in the Wildcats’ fall from grace last week, as Rawle Alkins (10.9 points, 37 percent beyond the arc last season) has yet to play a game due to a foot injury, Brandon Randolph has been slowed by a concussion he suffered on Nov. 5 and Emmanuel Akot has been limited by a knee injury. Trier’s early scoring spree - he averaged 27.8 points on 59.2-percent shooting over his first five outings - came to a dramatic halt against Purdue, which held him to eight points on 3-of-10 from the field. Ayton (20.3 points, 12 rebounds per game) failed to post a double-double for the first time against the Boilermakers, but he averaged 22 points and 12.3 rebounds over the three-day event.
1. Arizona has won all six meetings - all of which has been played in Tucson.
2. The Wildcats surrendered 90 points to North Carolina State and 89 to Purdue last week after not allowing more than 85 points in a single game last season.
3. Booker is only one of six Division I players this season to record back-to-back double-doubles with assists.
PREDICTION: Arizona 90, Long Beach State 71