Arizona beats Colorado 80-71 while Rawle Alkins sits out
Playing without Rawle Alkins for the second time in three games, No. 11 Arizona men’s basketball beat Colorado 80-71 after starting the game shooting 1-for-11 and trailing by as much as 10 in the first half Thursday in the McKale Center.
With one minute left, and Colorado trailing by five, Parker Jackson-Cartwright sealed the game with a deep contested three as the shot clock expired to put Arizona's lead out of reach and move the Wildcats to 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the Pac-12.
Arizona trailed 14-4 in the first eight minutes of the game, but returned with strong defense to tie the game 30-30 at halftime. The Wildcats started the second half with a 7-0 run and then extended the lead to 12, but Colorado climbed back to within one with 6:57 to go and kept the game close until Arizona managed to pull away in the last two minutes.
"If you like offense, I think you saw a lot of efficiency, or bad defense," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said.
Alkins sat out of the game with soreness in his right foot. He broke the foot before the season started and missed the first nine games. He played in the next nine games, but sat out for the same reason on Jan. 17 when Arizona played Cal. He then returned two days later and played 34 minutes against Stanford without any trouble.
Miller said Alkins foot is not broken and he is not having any complications. He is merely feeling mild soreness and the best thing for him right now is to simply rest the foot. He might play Saturday against Utah if the trainer and the doctor think he can play pain-free, according to Miller.
"We are not the same team without Rawle," Miller said. "He gives you second shots, someone who is a bigger guy, you know he is a creator for others.. But that doesn't mean Dylan Smith didn't do a good job."
Dylan Smith started in Alkins place and hit Arizona’s first three halfway through the first half. Smith played 34 minutes, scored 13 points, grabbed four rebounds and picked up three assists.
For Colorado, George King led the way with 22 points and six rebounds while freshman center Dallas Walton, who had 15 points on 7-7 shooting against Arizona in Boulder on Jan. 6, finished with four.
Allonzo Trier scored 23 points and and made three assists without turning the ball over. Miller was impressed with Trier's performance and called it the best game he's ever had.
"They trapped him on every pick and roll and he was very efficient," Miller said. "He was an All-American type player."
Deandre Ayton added 20 points and six rebounds, but Miller said that he was dealing with strep throat this week and wasn't at full strength. Ayton shot 4-for-10 in the game but made his way to the line 12 times where he shot a perfect 12-for-12.
Watching him out there, he did the best he could," Miller said. "But I don't know if he was at full go. He didn't get an offensive rebound in 37 minutes, and that's unlike him."
The Buffs beat Arizona on the glass 25-23 and 4-3 on the offensive glass. While some of that may have been due to Ayton not being at full strength, the other half of it may have been because there simply weren't a lot of rebounds to get.
That is especially true in the second half, where both team shot 69 percent from the floor and 67 percent from deep.
"I don't think our offense was the problem," Ristic said. "Our defense is the area we need to keep improving."
One part of Arizona's offense that worked well, was its ability to get to the free throw line. The Wildcats took 23 trips to the free throw line and hit 22 of those attempts, compared to the Buffs, who took eight free free throw attempts and hit five.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle picked up a technical in the second half while Arizona extended its lead over the Buffs. After Arizona lost to Colorado in Boulder, Boyle was asked if it felt good to beat Arizona because of the FBI investigation, and he responded, “Hell yes.”
After the game, Boyle commented on Arizona's consistency.
"That's what separates Arizona from the rest of the league," Boyle said. "They are so consistent game in and game out, whereas the rest of us are kind of up and down and up and down."
Arizona stays at home to play Utah Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on FOX.
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