The Rundown: On no 'Zo, Alkins clutch in OT and Ayton's NPOY candidacy
Arizona men’s basketball defeated the Oregon State Beavers 75-65 in overtime to pull one game closer to winning the Pac-12 regular season title. Here’s the rundown of the most important items to know from the game.
In case you missed the news that broke just hours before tip-off, Arizona guard Allonzo Trier was suspended indefinitely by NCAA for testing positive for a “trace amount” of a banned substance that stemmed from his first suspension in 2016. A full story on that can be found here.
Dylan Smith started in Trier’s place but only contributed three points in 16 minutes of action. It was actually Emmanuel Akot that saw the most action and the freshman had the team’s best plus/minus ratio (+18) in 25 minutes off the bench.
Alkins clutch in OT
Seemingly every Arizona game has gone down to the wire this season and the contest against Oregon State actually needed overtime to be settled. Tied at 61-61 after 40 minutes, the ‘Cats eventually pulled away from the Beavers thanks to an impressive performance by Rawle Alkins.
Alkins, who only scored 10 points in regulation, nailed two 3-pointers and also had an assist to Deandre Ayton to be OT hero for Arizona. The sophomore guard figures to play a more prominent role in the offense given Trier’s suspension and although Alkins struggled for most of the game, his best minutes came at the perfect time for the ‘Cats.
The winning formula?
The recipe for Arizona during conference play has become quite predictable. Get a big lead, blow the lead but then regain it and win the game. The previous game against ASU shines as Exhibit A.
Exhibit B took place versus the Beavers as the Wildcats once held a double-digit in the first half only to see the Beavers storm back in the second half. The contest featured a total of 11 lead changes but Arizona held a lead for 30:56 of the game.
Ayton’s NPOY Candidacy
Over the last week, Deandre Ayton has garnered a lot of attention of National Player of the Year attention and rightly so. The 7-foot-1 freshman is averaging 20.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game over his last three contests. His season averages are similar but Ayton is playing at a high level when a lot of the nation’s other top players are struggling.
Oklahoma’s Trae Young has hit just 14-50 (28 percent) is his last three games and Duke’s Marvin Bagley III has missed the last four games with a mild knee sprain. Come March, Ayton could be the favorite to take home the honors.
Ducks up next
The Oregon Ducks are up next and in come the memories of last year when Oregon blitzed Arizona in Eugene 85-58 and hit 16-25 3-pointers. Both teams will enter the game with plenty of new faces, especially the Ducks, but if Arizona blows a lead like it did against OSU, the ‘Cats might not be able to comeback. That game takes place on Feb. 24 at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.
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