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Ayton stellar in return to Bahamas, but Arizona falls

Ayton posts new career-highs

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat Deandre Ayton dunks the ball after an offensive rebound, ending the night with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Arizona men’s basketball team will likely want to forget its quarterfinal loss to NC State in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, but Deandre Ayton will remember it for years to come.

The Nassau, Bahamas native, who spent the earlier part of the week speaking to students of Mt. Carmel Preparatory Academy about what it meant to come home to play, put on a show in his return. 

Ayton posted a career high 27 points on 7-12 shooting, including 12-17 free throws and also added a career high 14 rebounds en route to his fourth straight double-double to begin his freshman career. 

The 7-1 forward was the go-to guy early on for the Wildcats as Allonzo Trier struggled in the first half. Ayton scored 16 points and snatched six rebounds within the game’s first 20 minutes and was the main factor to Arizona trimming down NC State’s lead before halftime. 

With center Dusan Ristic in foul trouble, Ayton played almost the entire second half for Arizona. The big man didn’t seem to wear down, though as he kept finding ways to keep the ‘Cats in the game in hopes that someone other than him or Trier could provide a boost. 

No such boost occurred and Ayton suffered his first loss as a member of what many believe to be Sean Miller’s best team. 

Before the team left for the Bahamas, Ayton said that he hoped for energy from the fans and the community during his return. 

“Arizona is about to shut it down,” Ayton also said. 

Ayton brought all the energy to the game against NC State, but outside of Parker Jackson-Cartwright and a late surge from Allonzo Trier, no one else seemed to want to match the freshman’s intensity. 

With the loss to NC State, Arizona will not have a chance to win the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. 

However, Ayton still has two more games to play in Paradise Island, just over the bridge which connects to his hometown. And with that comes the chance for Ayton to continue to win over the hearts of travelers and natives alike, if he hasn’t won them over already. 


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