The Arizona Wildcats beat the Oregon State Beavers by a score of 98-64 in blowout fashion as the Wildcats held Oregon State University scoreless halfway through the first half. The Wildcats put on a great shooting performance: Field goals-57.4% (35-61), three pointers-47% (8-17) and free throws-77% (20-26).
Head coach Sean Miller had to make some changes to his usual starting lineup after Jemarl Baker Jr. broke his hand and ruled out for the rest of the season against UCLA last week. Those changes included sending freshman Dalen Terry and redshirt sophomore Jordan Brown to the bench and promoting freshman Bennedict Mathurin and sophomore Christian Koloko to the starting unit.
Over the last five games, Mathurin has averaged 17.4 points and six rebounds and was playing so well that Miller decided his scoring and defense were needed in the starting lineup.
Tonight, Mathurin had his best game of the season, where he finished with 31 points to go along with 8 rebounds on 10-12 shooting from the field and 6-7 shooting on three-point shots. He was terrific in the Wildcats' third-straight Pac-12 road win.
“[Mathurin] got hot during the game and we kept finding him and he kept doing his thing,” Brown said.
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“I feel more comfortable every single game,” Mathurin said. “I feel like my defense improves game by game and gives me more confidence. I have been in the gym a lot lately, working on my shot and every time I’m in the gym I get more confident. I have been taking shots that I would take in the game and coming before practice and staying after practice to get extra shots.”
Brown was moved to the bench in tonight’s game to switch things up and see if he could provide a spark off the bench and he did just that. He scored 25 points and had five rebounds while playing 21 minutes, which is right around his season average of minutes per game (20.4) while coming off the bench. He was 10-12 shooting from the field and 5-7 on foul shots, which is a big improvement from his 60% average on the overall season so far.
“We all did our job to step up when we can,” Brown said. “It’s not too big of a deal coming off the bench, I’m coming out there and doing what I love.”
“We changed the lineup, but it wasn’t to [Brown’s] detriment,” Miller said. “His role and minutes will continue to be about the same, if not more.”
Baker broke his hand last week and was ruled out for the rest of the 2020-21 season. This is a big loss considering he is one of the older players on this younger team and also one of the group's best scorers and playmakers.
“We are going to really miss Jemarl Baker, he’s a great kid and one of our team’s leaders,” Miller said.
Kerr Kriisa also broke his nose at a practice recently while preparing for his debut on Feb. 4. Miller said he has been ruled out of practice and did not travel with the team to play Oregon State.
“I thought he started hitting his stride, 10-15 days ago,” Miller said. “We are at a point now where we need to make sure to get him the ball in scoring position.”
Azuolas Tubelis has scored over 10 points in six out of his last eight games and has also had at least six or more rebounds in seven of those games. Every game, his role seems to increase, and he looks to keep getting more comfortable on the floor.
The Wildcats were previously scheduled to play the Oregon Ducks this Saturday, Jan. 16, but that game was canceled due to COVID-19 complications within the Ducks’ program.
Miller said they should know by “Saturday at the latest” if another game will be added. If one doesn’t happen, the Wildcats are scheduled to go to Tempe, Arizona to face off against interstate rival, the Arizona State Sun Devils.
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