47 points from 'terrific' bench play help Arizona rout Georgia Southern
The Arizona men’s basketball team returned to the desert after their business trip to Maui, shaking off their first two losses of the season with a 100-70 bounce-back win against visiting Georgia Southern.
The ‘Cats scored 47 bench points Thursday, led by Alex Barcello, Dylan Smith and freshman Devonaire Doutrive – who received some extended playing time and provided 8 points, as well as a highlight reel behind the back pass to Barcello late in the game.
“Our bench tonight was terrific.” head coach Sean Miller said postgame. “We aren’t going to get this kind of production every night, but it shows that we have a lot of different players who can come into the game and contribute.”
Five Wildcats were in double figures, led by Chase Jeter, who had a career high 18 points on a perfect 4-4 shooting thanks to going 10-12 from the free-throw line. Arizona also got a career high 16 from Barcello along with 14 each from Brandon Williams and Brandon Randolph, as well as 10 from Dylan Smith.
Back in McKale Center for the first time since Thanksgiving, Arizona looked like it was still suffering through a case of the long break to begin the first half. Georgia Southern used an 8-0 run early on to open up the game with a quick five-point lead. Arizona then quickly answered right back with an 8-0 run of its own, never trailing the rest of the game.
With a combined total of 12 assists and 35 turnovers over their last two games, the ‘Cats protected the ball much better Thursday, recording 22 assists to only 6 turnovers for the night. A big question mark after Maui was the production Arizona received from their bench, or lack thereof.
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Smith and the Wildcats knew the bench didn’t put their best foot forward in Maui, but they didn’t let it affect them long-term.
“The bench didn’t really do that well in Maui,” Smith said. “It wasn’t as much people were nervous, shots just weren’t falling. Shots are gonna fall.”
Arizona shot 51 percent from the floor for the game, while their defense also came to play, holding the Eagles to just 17 percent from three and 39 percent overall.
Miller acknowledged postgame that while the losses in Maui sting, it is a long season.
“If you’re holding us to the standard of ‘I can’t believe you guys didn’t beat Auburn or Gonzaga,’ you’re on the planet Pluto. We’re a team thats going to lose a few, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be a team that’s better than everyone thinks.”
Arizona travels to Connecticut next for an early tipoff Sunday against the Huskies, returning the favor of the home-and-home series the two schools have.
“We really respect their players and program,” Miller said. “You wanna play against these types of programs, you wanna get on a plane and fly to the east, and you wanna play against a team that has a great home crowd. UConn has everything.”
Game time Sunday will be an early one for ‘Cats fans, with the game starting at 11 a.m. local time. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
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