Allonzo Trier sets new career high with 32 points as Arizona blows out NAU 101-67 in season opener
Allonzo Trier set a new career high with 32 points in a game as Arizona men's basketball blew out the NAU Lumberjacks 101-67 in Friday’s season opener at the McKale Center.
Trier paced Arizona’s offense from the very beginning of the game, scoring 10 points in the first four and a half minutes. The junior shooting guard had four assists, including three of them to Deandre Ayton, and tied his career record on a crowd pleasing slam dunk. He ended the night with 32 points, five rebounds and four assists on highly efficient 10-for-13 shooting.
“I tried to come out, play hard and compete. I tried to set the tone for my teammates, being one of the older guys, one of the leaders on this team, I tried to come out and take care of business,” Trier said.
Arizona’s big men, Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic, also had big games for themselves.
Ayton had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats, six of his points assisted by Trier. Ayton shot a lower percentage than he did in the first two exhibition games, but made it to the line four times, where he went 7-for-8.
Ristic also tied his own career high with 20 points and 10 rebounds, shooting an efficient 8-13 from the field. Ristic is one of the players that will be crucial for the Wildcats in the paint alongside fellow seven-footer Ayton, as they might be the only seven-foot duo in the country. Ristic’s 20 points came naturally as he cleaned up misses and made layups off of blown coverage.
“I mean, obviously it’s really hard to guard two seven-footers at the same time, a lot of teams in the country have one seven-footer, we have two in the starting lineup. Ristic said. “It helps to have a player like Deandre, it helps everybody, when they crowd him inside, it opens up space."
Overall Arizona’s offense looked sharp, as they shot 60 percent from the floor and 38 percent from deep. NAU initially kept the game within arms length in the first half but was overwhelmed by Arizona’s size and talent in the second half. NAU looked lost as Arizona found its rhythm on defense. The Wildcats went on a 9-0 run early in the second half and held the Lumberjacks scoreless for over five minutes late in the game.
However, head Coach Sean Miller was not impressed by the Wildcats defense in the first half.
“We have a lot of weapons on offense, but we can’t let that come to the detriment of our defense,” Miller said. “Tonight we had too many miscues, we picked and choose especially in the first half, how hard we were going to play. We were irresponsible, we didn't make it hard around the rim.
Miller blamed some of the lack of defense in the first half on Ayton, saying that in the first half it was almost like someone had told him not to block shots and use his athleticism defensively. Miller credited it to this being his first game and said that he will be better as he plays more games.
With less than five minutes left on the clock, Miller sat Ayton and Trier and put Tucson native Talbott Denny into his first game at Arizona. The red haired transfer from Lipscomb University received a warm welcome from the fans after he sat out all last year with a torn ACL.
Arizona’s senior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright had eight assists and five points with no turnovers. Despite struggling with his shot, shooting 1-5, Miller said he dominated the game with his ball handling and his mind for the game.
Arizona only had eight scholarship players available tonight, as senior forward Keanu Pinder joined the growing list of Wildcats on the bench after he was suspended one game for violating NCAA rules. Assistant coach Mark Phelps was also suspended five games without pay for violation of NCAA rules. Arizona confirmed the suspensions in a statement released before the game, but gave no additional information.
Currently Arizona is without freshman guard Brandon Randolph, (concussion) sophomore guard Rawle Alkins, (foot) and Dylan Smith. (team violation) Miller said Randolph should return for Arizona’s game Sunday, while Alkins is out for several more weeks until he is cleared to play.
Arizona faces UMBC on Sunday Nov. 12, at 4:00 p.m. in the McKale Center.
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