Arizona struggles as it falls to Purdue 89-64 for third loss in a row
Arizona Men’s basketball struggled yet again Friday as Purdue defeated the Wildcats, 89-64, for its third loss in a row at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
No. 2 Arizona leaves the Bahamas without a win and an even 3-3 record after putting up another poor performance. The Wildcats did not look like the Arizona basketball team that everyone expected to see over Thanksgiving week.
Once again, like the previous two days, Arizona could not find itself on offense and looked equally lost on defense for most of the game, letting the Boilermakers put up 50 points by halftime. Throughout the game the Wildcats let Purdue shoot 50 percent from deep and 57 percent from inside. Arizona looked bewildered and confused on defense and continually failed to close out on 3-point shots or follow through on defensive rotations.
Unlike Purdue, the Wildcats shot 42 percent from the floor and 18 percent from deep, hitting three of 17 attempts from beyond the arch.
Despite Arizona's performance, Deandre Ayton was solid again, posting 22 points and 8 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. Ayton shot 10-for-14 in the game and was a force to be reckoned with inside the paint. Ayton picked up five fouls and fouled out of the game in the remaining few minutes, but it meant nothing as by that point any kind of comeback was virtually out of reach.
There was a moment, about midway through the second half, where Arizona began to show some signs of life. The Wildcats went on a 8-0 run and cut Purdue’s lead down to 13. However, after several missed layups, turnovers and poor shot selection, Purdue struck back with a 18-2 run to close out the game.
If there is a silver lining to be found in Friday's game, it would have to be freshman Brandon Randolph, who put together a strong game, scoring a career high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Randolph had not played well before Friday, scoring just six points in his first four games.
Like everyone on the team not named Ayton or Randolph, Allonzo Trier also had a tough night, going 3-for-10 from the floor and finishing with eight points. Trier tried to get Arizona’s stale offense going but could not find a rhythm, turning the ball over four times and forcing tough shots.
Overall the Wildcats were outrebounded 37-27, but won the offensive glass 9-8.
Arizona has not lost three in a row since February of 2010, during Sean Miller's first year as head coach in Tucson.
The Wildcats continue to play without star sophomore guard Rawle Alkins (foot) and can only hope his return will give them a much needed boost. Alkins was an efficient scorer last season, averaging 10.9 points, but perhaps more importantly, he was a defensive anchor for a Wildcats team that finished the season 32-5 last year.
Arizona returns home to play Long Beach State on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. in the McKale Center.
Follow Nate Airulla on Twitter.