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LOS ANGELES \u2013 Some of the adjustments shorthanded Arizona had to make against Gonzaga on Saturday were obvious: Kadeem Allen at the point, Lauri Markkanen at small forward a lot, and just about everybody soaking up minutes in the 30s.

But another thing struck UA coach Sean Miller in the Wildcats\u2019 69-62 loss to Gonzaga: He had to ask Keanu Pinder to defend the small forward position for the first time this season.

\u201cAnd it just so happened he guarded a perimeter player against Gonzaga,\u201d Miller said. \u201cThat\u2019s not in our best interests. But these are the circumstances.\u201d

Miller tried to look ahead, saying he\u2019s hopeful that the Wildcats will get \u201ca couple of guys back\u201d (since Parker Jackson-Cartwright is the only injured one who can return, that may mean Miller is still hopeful of getting Allonzo Trier, too).

\u201cWe\u2019re at seven but the hard part for us is a lot of times teams suffer through some injuries and adversity but some teams suffer adversity but you look at the calendar and it\u2019s February or January.

\u201cBut for us we\u2019ve really been hit with these things at the beginning. I think the good news for us is that it\u2019s allowing these types of guys to have a lot on their plates, a big role, a lot of experience.\u201d


Considering Jackson-Cartwright\u2019s absence, UA\u2019s early struggles on offense were no surprise. Over the first six minutes Saturday, the Wildcats had five turnovers and shot just 2 for 6 from the field.

\u201cNo question, (PJC\u2019s absence) really affects everything and everybody,\u201d Miller said.

\u201cRawle (Alkins), for example, has played mostly the three. We\u2019ve given him some reps at the two and he played as many at two as three. Lauri -- God bless him -- I\u2019ve never seen a freshman play three positions like he has. He played mostly the small forward, which is very difficult if you\u2019re 7-foot.

\u201cIt affects everything and everybody. Our zone offense, our underneath out of bounds offense. Defensively it really affects you.\u201d


Wondering why Miller didn't double-team Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski much Saturday?

Miller was asked if the way he guarded Karnowski had to do with Gonzaga's early three-point shooting, but indicated that he wasn't a fan of doubling the big man under almost any circumstance. Karnowski, after all, has no problem giving the ball up if he is heavily defended, dishing 15 assists over Gonzaga\u2019s first seven games.

Instead, Miller said he wanted UA to crowd the low post, and that they did a \u201cvery poor job\u201d of that.

\u201cDoubling him, trapping Karnowski, in my opinion I think it\u2019s a disaster,\u201d Miller said. \u201cMaybe another team out there that can do it better. But when you watch him, he\u2019s such a terrific passer.

\u201cIn my opinion when they\u2019re really clicking is when you double him, because he\u2019s a great passer and the guys he passes to on this year\u2019s team are all excellent 3-point shooters. When they have their big run, a lot of times it\u2019s because of the 3-point shot. We have a lot of young players who were for the first time in their career supposed to crowd in the low post. We did a very poor job of that. \u201c

So as it turned out, UA paid by letting Karnowski create his own offense. The big man from Poland was 9 for 13 from the field.

\u201cToday he beat us with our own scoring,\u201d Miller said. \u201cHe had timely baskets. Our one-on-one defense needs to get a little better. I thought Chance (Comanche) and Dusan (Ristic), that was a tough task for both of those guys. Now that they\u2019ve played against somebody like him hopefully they\u2019ll be ready for the next time.\u201d


Miller said the two UA players brought to the interview podium, Alkins and Markkanen, were probably the best two Wildcat players in the game.

\u201cI think all of our freshman have done a good job adjusting,\u201d Miller said. \u201cCertainly, Lauri has played three positions; he\u2019s done everything. That\u2019s usually what you ask a senior to do, like Kadeem Allen. And really ditto for Rawle. Rawle has done a lot of great things.\u201d

Markkanen was just 4 for 14 from the field \u2013 dragging down a field-goal percentage from 54.1 to 50.0 in just one game -- but said he remains \u201cvery confident in my shot.\u201d


There were only brief podium interviews granted Saturday, so not a whole lot of other comments of note that weren\u2019t in our full game coverage, which is attached to this post.

The box score and updated stats are attached as PDFs.

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LOS ANGELES \u2014 When Parker Jackson-Cartwright took a seat on the long Arizona bench before tipoff Saturday, next to fellow inactives Allonzo Trier, Ray Smith and Talbott Denny, the Wildcats\u2019 margin of error shrunk to almost zero.

Then, about four minutes later, it was zero.

In their 69-62 loss Saturday to Gonzaga at Staples Center, the Wildcats couldn\u2019t initially stop the Zags\u2019 three-point shooting and couldn\u2019t outmuscle Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski, who led all scorers with 18 points on 9-for-13 shooting.

And, without Jackson-Cartwright, UA couldn\u2019t find any sort of rhythm offensively.

After 4 minutes and 23 seconds, the Zags led 17-5. Arizona had four turnovers and had allowed three 3-pointers in that short span and never really recovered, despite a late rally that pulled the game within two possessions in the final minutes.

\u201cAt the start of the game, (Gonzaga) was a very confident group of guys, coming off a (AdvoCare Invitational) championship, with guys who really felt good about who they are,\u201d Miller said. \u201cWhereas on our end, we were really unsure.\u201d

That was all you really needed to know about Saturday\u2019s outcome. The rest of what Miller and his guys looked for was hope.

They saw a little bit of it in the way the rest of the first half played out, with UA trailing no worse (12 points) at halftime. And a little more in the second half, when they outscored Gonzaga by five thanks to better defense and some gutsy offensive play by guard Rawle Alkins.

Miller said he was pleased with the Wildcats\u2019 resiliency and effort after those initial minutes, thankful that Kadeem Allen and Lauri Markkanen keep putting out extraordinary effort while playing three positions each, happy that Alkins kept going at it when the game could have completely fallen apart.

Those were intangibles a coach could point to. The stats weren\u2019t so understanding.

Arizona shot just 38.6 percent from the field, missing 7 of 8 three-pointers it took, thanks to uncharacteristically poor shooting efforts from Markkanen (4 of 14) and Kobi Simmons (1 for 9).

Perhaps for Markkanen, such a result was overdue. He had been an amazingly efficient shooter all season, entering the game with a 45.9 percent mark from 3-point range.

Basically, he was so good that people were taking notice. And when you have an unbeaten No. 8-ranked team, full of veteran players and a well-regarded coach, guess what?

\u201cObviously, they defended me a little bit differently than other previous teams, but it\u2019s just the shots didn\u2019t go in today,\u201d Markkanen said. \u201cI\u2019m still very confident in my shot.\u201d

He had a point. Markkanen missed some open looks that he routinely nailed down during the Wildcats\u2019 first seven games, but he also had to deal with a defense that was probably more tuned in to him than any other he\u2019s seen so far.

In other words, Gonzaga paid him a compliment, the kind of compliment that isn\u2019t fun to receive.

\u201cHe is a fabulous player,\u201d Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. \u201cHe presents a lot of problems being 7 feet tall and Sean\u2019s done a great job of putting him in a lot of different actions.

\u201cI thought our guys did a good job of assimilating all the different places on the floor where he was going to be. We switched our ball-screen coverages and shaded our zone to him.\u201d

While Markkanen put in another 38 minutes, having to play again often at small forward since the Wildcats have only three natural players for the three perimeter positions, Alkins logged 37 minutes, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half to help the Wildcats make a game of it.

Most of Alkins\u2019 scoring came off rebounding or other hustle plays; five of his seven rebounds were offensive.

\u201cMy coaches and my teammates gave me confidence. They wanted me to be aggressive,\u201d Alkins said. \u201cThey stress that a lot with me. I was talking to (Miller) the other day and he was telling me to just play basketball, play my game. He thought in the first few games I was being a little timid and unsure of myself and not knowing what to do.

\u201cI was just playing hard on both ends of the floor. (Frontline players) we\u2019re supposed to rebound every second on offense. So the shot goes up and my first instinct is to rebound the ball and luckily it just got to my hands.\u201d

Meanwhile, the Wildcats relied on Allen for 35 minutes, with fulltime duty at point guard, where he wasn\u2019t even supposed to play entering this season. Allen collected 10 points and four rebounds, with five turnovers to his three assists, and he fouled out with 28 seconds left, just after a two-possession game had bumped back up to three.

The central question Saturday was how many of the UA\u2019s struggles were due to its avalanche of absences. In a perfect world for the Wildcats, Jackson-Cartwright would have played 30 minutes at the point, while Trier might have created some offense to put them in position to win, as he did last season in Spokane.

But Jackson-Cartwright was out with a high ankle sprain suffered Wednesday against Texas Southern and Trier, well, you know that story: eight games now, gone, because of his ongoing NCAA eligibility issue.

Miller can only hope the experience of games like Saturday\u2019s, the extra minutes, the learning new positions, can help guys like Markkanen, Alkins and even forward Keanu Pinder \u2014 who was forced to defend small forwards for the first time this year \u2014 later this season.

\u201cWe have our fingers crossed that we can get some good health, and maybe get a couple of these guys back,\u201d Miller said, \u201cand if we can do that, we may hit our stride in January and February in a way that maybe we couldn\u2019t.\u201d

Miller then paused briefly.

\u201cAnd here\u2019s the other point,\u201d he said, \u201cthat\u2019s the only positive way I can look at it.\u201d

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Trier accompanied the Wildcats on their team and booster flight to Los Angeles on Friday and took part in some early warmups at the Staples Center. 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LOS ANGELES -- Although Arizona guard Allonzo Trier made his first road trip with the Arizona Wildcats today, he will not play against Gonzaga.

Trier accompanied the Wildcats on their team and booster flight to Los Angeles on Friday and took part in some early warmups at the Staples Center. But he sat out final warmups along with injured teammates Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Ray Smith.

Trier will have now missed eight games and two exhibition games because of an NCAA eligibility issue that appears to be under appeal.

Players ineligible under NCAA rules often must pay their own way to road trips, though there are exceptions. Trier did not accompany the Wildcats to Honolulu or Las Vegas earlier this month.

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LOS ANGELES -- Another drama-filled week for Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats winds up today at the Staples Center.

During a publicity call earlier this week \u2013 before Parker Jackson-Cartwright suffered a high ankle sprain that will likely keep him out until January \u2013 Miller said this:

\u201cLike any coach, you pray for continued good health,\u201d Miller said. \u201cWe need some good fortune where we can keep our roster intact.\u201d

Maybe Miller gets Allonzo Trier back today; maybe not. While UA still won't comment on his status or even confirm whether or not he's in L.A. (as he appears to be), we\u2019ll know soon enough if he's playing.


The context of Miller\u2019s above comment was in that he still believes the Wildcats have great potential if they can ever get some continuity going.

\u201cThat\u2019s the one exciting thing -- we have tremendous upside,\u201d Miller said. \u201cIn their best attempt they\u2019re just not as well versed. Every time we\u2019re able to show them something they didn\u2019t do well, when we have a chance to add a week of practice, they improve.

\u201cWe have size, a number of quick players, but our guys have to embrace that (defensive) side to know we have to win some games when the basketball is not going in. We\u2019ve played some solid defense.\u201d


UA is among a number of Pac-12 teams with big games today.

Before the Wildcats and Zags tip off at 3:30, UCLA will play at Kentucky (10:30 a.m., CBS).

Stanford will play at Jerod Haase\u2019s alma mater, Kansas, at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN. That game will lead into the UA-Gonzaga game.

BYU will face USC in the second half of the Staples Center doubleheader (6 p.m., ESPNU).

Also today:

ASU will host UNLV (6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Cal will host Alcorn State (2 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

New Orleans will visit WSU (4 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Colorado will play at Portland (8 p.m., no TV)

Oregon State will play at Charlotte (5 p.m., no TV)


Bobby Hurley is hoping the Sun Devils \u201ccircle the wagons\u201d instead of playing shoddy defense.


USC may go small at times while adjusting to Bennie Boatwright\u2019s loss.


Here's the school-produced game notes from Gonzaga and Arizona.


The Seattle Times printed an excerpt from Bud Withers' book on Gonzaga basketball, this one talking about Nigel Williams-Goss and his transfer from Washington.


Our full pregame coverage is attached to this post.

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ARIZONA SCOUTING REPORT

ARIZONA:

GONZAGA

HOW THEY MATCH UP

The series: The Wildcats have beaten the Zags in each of the previous three seasons in what might be the West\u2019s premier nonconference rivalry. UA blew out a shorthanded and injury- plagued Bulldogs team in the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament 84-61, then edged the Zags in overtime 66-63 at McKale Center the following season after Gonzaga\u2019s Byron Wesley missed three free throws that could have sent the game into double OT. Last season, the Wildcats overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to pull out a 68-63 win in Spokane. Overall, UA is 6-1 in the series, having lost only during the 2011-12 season in Seattle.

Gonzaga overview: Seems like just about every season you can make the case that Gonzaga has its best team yet under Mark Few. But really, maybe this is it. The Zags have a little bit of everything: good size, experience, solid point guard play and three-point shooting. While Arizona can match up with their size and speed, the Zags go a solid eight deep and have five players averaging in double figures. While Gonzaga lost skilled forward Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis to the NBA after last season, two Pac-12 transfers helped round them out: scoring-minded point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and three-point specialist Jordan Mathews (Cal). They\u2019ve also gotten an outside shooting boost from guard Josh Perkins, who has morphed from a 38 percent to a 48 percent shooter from outside the arc. Inside, Polish big man Przemek Karnowski, who missed last season\u2019s UA-Gonzaga game, is a force that the Wildcats may have trouble defending.

KEY PLAYERS

Gonzaga

Arizona

He said it

\u201cThey\u2019re shooting the three much better. Williams-Goss is a much better addition to their backcourt and Mathews hit 6 of 12 threes against us (while at Cal last season). They\u2019re a great three-point shooting team and they have Karnowski inside; he can score and pass out of the post. They have a great ball-screen and post-up offense. Williams-Goss is the total package. He can shoot threes assist, drive the ball. Killian (Tillie) and Zach Collins come off the bench. (Defensively) they play a lot more zone than they have in the past, a very aggressive zone.\u201d

\u2014 UA associate head coach Joe Pasternack, who scouted the Bulldogs.

SIDELINES

Familiar faces

Whether it\u2019s in the NCAA tournament, a home-and-home series or a neutral site such as the Staples Center, Arizona and Gonzaga keep managing to find each other.

This will be the fourth straight season that they\u2019ve met, while they\u2019ll also face each other next season in Phoenix and are both scheduled to play in the 2018 Maui Invitational.

UA coach Sean Miller is fine with all that. In fact, he\u2019s the one who agreed to take the Wildcats to the Gonzaga campus last season for the first time ever, returning a game the UA won at McKale Center during the 2014-15 season.

\u201cWe\u2019re gonna continue to play Gonzaga because they\u2019re one of the best programs in college basketball,\u201d Miller said. \u201cTo have the opportunity year in and year out to play against them in a true away game or a neutral game makes a lot of sense, especially if you consider who they are in the West.

\u201cI admire the program, the coach, and I love their team this year. \u2026 You have to admire every single thing about their program on the court, off the court, their tradition, the quality of players they are able to maintain year in and year out.\u201d

Miller said it was also important to play Gonzaga in Los Angeles, a city that\u2019s \u201creally important to our program\u2019s history\u201d (and traditionally a big UA recruiting ground).

\u201cAnd on national television, that\u2019s the type of games you want to play in at Arizona,\u201d Miller said. \u201cBut they can also run you completely out of the city of L.A. if you\u2019re not ready to go because of how great they are.\u201d

Returning the praise

If it isn\u2019t already obvious by their willingness to schedule each other that Miller and Gonzaga\u2019s Mark Few have some mutual respect and a coaching friendship, Few chipped in with a few words of his own during a Basketball Hall of Fame publicity call earlier this week.

\u201cWe\u2019ve had a great series and relationship with the University of Arizona,\u201d Few said. \u201cI can\u2019t think of probably another program I have more respect for. And there\u2019s not a head coach I have more respect for than Sean. The job he\u2019s done at Arizona has been one of the more amazing building and sustaining projects. Because when he took over he followed a Hall of Fame guy in Lute (Olson) and that\u2019s not an easy situation.

\u201cOnce again, they\u2019re right up near the top in the college basketball landscape and we\u2019ve had some great games with them the last couple of years. We ended up on the short end so hopefully maybe we can turn that around.\u201d

Upgraded

For all the success Gonzaga has had for nearly two decades now, it wasn\u2019t until this season that the Zags lost two guys at the same time who made an NBA opening-night roster.

And even this year, it wasn\u2019t a sure thing that both Sabonis and Wiltjer would make the NBA.

Sabonis was drafted 11th and is averaging 21.7 minutes for Oklahoma City, but Wiltjer had to make it via the free-agent route.

Wiltjer wasn\u2019t drafted but signed with the Rockets and made the team\u2019s opening roster. He was sent down to the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers for five games last month but is currently back with Houston.

\u201cWe\u2019re really proud of what Kyle and Domas have been able to do,\u201d Few said. \u201cBut also I\u2019m happy and very pleased with the new guys we have stepping in.\u201d

Numbers game

2 of Gonzaga\u2019s four 7-0 starts have ended with losses to Arizona, in 2014-15 (at McKale Center) and 2008-09 (in Phoenix).

4 Arizona wins in nine games under Miller at Staples Center, where UA lost in the finals of the 2011 and 2012 Pac-10/12 Tournaments, the 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 and the 2015 Elite Eight.

6 Lauri Markkanen\u2019s standing among top 3-point shooters in the Pac-12 so far (46.9 percent).

\u2014 Bruce Pascoe

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There are some Twitter posts tonight saying that Arizona guard Allonzo Trier joined the Wildcats for their flight to Los Angeles today, but no indication if he'll play Saturday against Gonzaga.

As of now, both the Star's\u00a0Greg Hansen\u00a0and\u00a0Wildcat Authority\u00a0have tweeted that Trier was on the flight. But there's been no official confirmation and, since the team's plane was chartered, I wasn't able to see for myself if he was or wasn't on it (as in Honolulu).

A UA spokesman declined to comment (as usual) via text message on Trier's status and did not respond when asked to confirm if Trier was on the team flight.\u00a0

If Trier did make the flight, that suggests he either has been cleared and will play Saturday against Gonzaga or is just traveling along and may have to pay his own way. Players ineligible under NCAA rules sometimes must pay their own way to travel, and Trier didn't travel to Honolulu or Las Vegas last month.

Trier has missed six regular-season games and two exhibition games while awaiting NCAA word on his status. On his Instagram page, Trier posted a photo of himself sitting on the bench Wednesday in the UA-Texas Southern game, saying \"still all smiles, can't break me.\"

The Wildcats will have seven healthy and eligible scholarship players Saturday, but eight if Trier is able to play. Trier is the Wildcats' top returning scorer, having averaged 14.8 points per game as a freshman last season.

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When Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss took over as Gonzaga\u2019s point guard this season, the pressure could have been overwhelming.

Not just to exceed the two standout years he had at Washington, or deal with any lingering bitterness from Husky fans across the state. Or even to keep living up to his McDonald\u2019s All-American cred out of high school.

Mostly, he had to figure out how to keep everyone happy.

Being the Zags\u2019 point guard meant Williams-Goss had to determine when and where to dish it to any number of capable returning veterans. And figure out how best to get the ball to the team\u2019s other two top transfers, Johnathan Williams and Jordan Mathews, in order to keep everyone else happy.

And, of course, Williams-Goss also had to know that sometimes, it\u2019s best to simply take his own shot, which lands at a 47.8 percent mark from 3-point territory.

So far, the evidence suggests exactly none of this is a problem. The Zags have seven players all averaging between 8.3 and 12.9 points a game, and they\u2019re 7-0 entering a game with Arizona today at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

So what\u2019s to complain about?

\u201cHonestly, we don\u2019t even worry about\u201d who gets the ball, Williams-Goss said Friday by telephone from Spokane. \u201cWe all came here to win. We just have the common goal to win. When you keep that in the forefront of your mind, that all takes care of itself.\u201d

It may help that getting the ball didn\u2019t appear the biggest reason Gonzaga\u2019s big three transfers relocated in the first place.

They already had it.

Williams-Goss was a two-year starter at Washington who led the Huskies in scoring (15.9) and assists (5.9) while averaging 36.8 minutes during the 2014-15 season.

Williams was Missouri\u2019s leading scorer in 2014-15, averaging 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds. And when the Wildcats last visited Mathews\u2019 former home in Berkeley, the shooting guard threw down 6 of 12 three-pointers to lead Cal to a 74-73 win over the Wildcats.

They didn\u2019t need to score more. But Mathews left as a grad transfer during a somewhat volatile spring at Cal, when the Bears also lost Jaylen Brown and almost Ivan Rabb to the NBA among other issues.

Williams, meanwhile, left after the Tigers won just nine games during the first season of new Missouri coach Kim Anderson.

While Washington won 16 games in 2014-15, that came after an 11-0 start. Talented but troubled Robert Upshaw was dismissed from the team midway through the season, and there were a number of transfers and the departure of an assistant coach.

Williams-Goss had seen enough.

\u201cThe thing was all the turnover in that program,\u201d Williams-Goss said. \u201cI was halfway through my college career and I thought it would be in my best interest to go somewhere else.\u201d

He quickly found himself recruited by a number of high-major teams \u2014 including Michigan State, Ohio State, Texas and Notre Dame \u2014 but eventually picked a new home in Spokane.

He hasn\u2019t regretted it.

\u201cHonestly, I love it,\u201d Williams-Goss said. \u201cI didn\u2019t dislike a bigger school when I was at U-Dub. I just figured that was like what college was like. But now I\u2019m at a smaller school and I appreciate the smaller environment. It\u2019s more of a close community. We have smaller classes, and I have better relationships with my professors.\u201d

Sitting out the required redshirt year allowed Williams-Goss to speed ahead academically, so much so that he says he\u2019ll graduate with a degree in psychology this month.

It also allowed him to learn Gonzaga\u2019s system, easing the process of integration this season, though coach Mark Few said it will still take some time.

\u201cYou look at the (class year) behind some of those guys\u2019 names, and you\u2019d think we\u2019re crazy experienced,\u201d Few said on a publicity call this week. \u201cHaving guys like Nigel, Jordan and Johnathan helps in that they know how to prepare themselves physically and mentally for a game. Now it\u2019s more about getting them up to speed with how we operate.\u201d

So far, so good for the Zags.

But there\u2019s a few more immediate challenges for Williams-Goss ahead: One, facing an Arizona team he couldn\u2019t beat in two games with the Huskies. (Washington only faced UA once each season when he played in Seattle.) Then, he\u2019ll have to face the Huskies on Wednesday in Spokane for the first time since he left them.

And three: Williams-Goss will have to decide which grad program to start digging into next semester.

\u201cEither I\u2019m going to go for an MBA or do our organizational leadership program,\u201d Williams-Goss says.

No surprise there. Running a business and leading? Sounds a little like what Williams-Goss is already doing on the court.

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Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright spent Thursday undergoing more tests and observation on his right ankle, so it isn\u2019t exactly clear when he\u2019ll be back.

But this much is clear: Barring a sudden return by Allonzo Trier, the Wildcats will have to skate through the rest of the nonconference season by making a number of adjustments.

UA trainer Justin Kokoskie said Thursday he won\u2019t be able to determine an exact timetable until Jackson-Cartwright\u2019s swelling subsides in the next few days, but history suggest he\u2019ll miss the rest of nonconference play.

High ankle sprains typically require 4 to 8 weeks off the court, though they can keep a player out much longer depending on the severity. The last time Arizona had a high ankle sprain during a season, Salim Stoudamire missed about a month in the preseason and early season of 2002-03.

Since UA doesn\u2019t play between its Dec. 20 home game with New Mexico and its Dec. 30 conference opener at California, the best-case scenario might be to get Jackson-Cartwright back for Pac-12 play. That\u2019s what the Wildcats did with Kaleb Tarczewski (foot) last season.

Until then, here are five things that could define the Wildcats\u2019 new existence:

1. Kadeem Allen is the point guard until he flops over in exhaustion.

The UA senior says he\u2019s ready for the challenge of a ton of minutes, and his coach isn\u2019t doubting him.

\u201cKadeem\u2019s one of the great leaders that I\u2019ve coached,\u201d UA coach Sean Miller said. \u201cYou may not see that because he\u2019s not an outgoing verbal type of guy. But his effort level every day and really doing everything it takes to win, that\u2019s really what he\u2019s done and that\u2019s what he continues to do. He\u2019s our only senior and he\u2019s playing with his heart.\u201d

Allen was, of course, the starting point guard for most of last season. But the difference now is that his only backup is freshman Kobi Simmons, a natural shooing guard who is still learning the position, and that he\u2019s being counted on to be UA\u2019s top perimeter defender at the same time.

For example, on Saturday, Allen will need to help tone down the three Gonzaga guys who all shoot 3-pointers at a 43 percent rate or better.

2. Lauri Markkanen is now officially a combo forward.

Forget about \u201ccenter\u201d for the 7-footer from Finland. Because UA has only three natural players among the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions, Markkanen will have to scoot over from his natural power forward position to play at small forward.

While that certainly is no issue offensively, as evidenced by Markkanen\u2019s 5 of 6 3-pointers Wednesday, it means Markkanen will have to defend much smaller players on occasion.

\u201cWith the teams I\u2019ve had, very few players are ever asked to play three positions, especially in the first five games,\u201d Miller said. \u201cBut (Allen) pretty much played the three positions every game, as did Lauri. Lauri played the five, the four and the three. Kadeem played the one, the two and the three.

\u201cAnd that\u2019s what we have to do. We have seven players.\u201d

3. If Keanu Pinder helps at small forward, it won\u2019t be for perimeter shooting.

Valued for his rebounding, athleticism and energy inside, the Wildcats\u2019 junior college transfer pulled up for a pair of 3-pointers Wednesday, and hit one of them for his first long-range bucket of the season.

Miller was less than thrilled.

\u201cIt\u2019s not a good shot for him or our team,\u201d Miller said after the game. \u201cI don\u2019t think I\u2019ve ever seen him shoot a 3-point shot other than the two he took tonight. That\u2019s not a good shot for him right now.

\u201cFifteen to 17 feet is good, but Keanu has a special role on our team. He\u2019s a great defender, plays with a lot of energy, very athletic. He gives us a quickness up front that we need and he\u2019s been invaluable so far through seven games. But shooting\u2019s really not his forte. I was surprised as anyone when he made the one he shot.\u201d

4. Rawle Alkins needs to stop the train sometimes.

With a razor-thin margin from having just seven scholarship players, the Wildcats can hardly afford excessive turnovers or fouls. That means Alkins, whose aggressive drives to the basket can pick up charging calls that result in both problems, must be careful.

Alkins leads UA in turnovers with 18, having committed eight over two games in Las Vegas last week, but said Wednesday he has worked to fix the problem, in part by working more on his pull-up jumper and floaters.

Against Texas Southern on Wednesday, Alkins scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting and had just one turnover.

\u201cI would say my biggest adjustment from high school to college is to know when to drive, when to attack the rim,\u201d Alkins said. \u201cThe ball has to get moving a little bit before I can go and play my game. That caused a lot of charges early on this year but I feel a lot more confident in my ability and attacking the rim now.

\u201cI kept trying to play my old high school game in Vegas and before that, but I had a long talk with Coach (Miller) and he told me it\u2019s causing unforced turnovers with me doing that.\u201d

5. Sometimes, everyone will need to slow down.

Although the Wildcats have averaged 75.4 points so far this season and appear at their best in a fast-paced game, conserving energy may now occasionally be more important. Especially so the Wildcats can play defense the way Miller wants them to.

So Miller put on some brakes not long after Jackson-Cartwright was out Wednesday, resulting in UA shooting 13 fewer shots in the second half. Their 22-point victory margin might have been bigger with a faster pace, too.

\u201cWe didn\u2019t push the ball very hard in the second half just because we were going to run out of gas,\u201d Miller said. \u201cWe tried to slow it down. That\u2019s not in our best interest. We\u2019re going to be better in transition \u2026 but the pace we play at, we have to be really smart because as you get against good teams you can really get in foul trouble. (With seven players, if) one or two get in foul trouble, you have a hard time finishing the game.\u201d

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Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright is continuing to undergo testing and observation today, so there's still no definitive timetable yet for his recovery.

UA trainer Justin Kokoskie confirmed that Jackson-Cartwright suffered a high ankle sprain in the Wildcats' win over Texas Southern on Wednesday, but said he wouldn't know more until PJC's swelling subsides over the next few days.

Typically, though, high ankle sprains can keep a basketball player out for at least a few weeks because the limited blood flow to the area means healing takes longer. They can also take up to several months depending on the severity.

That suggests that UA's best-case scenario is to have Jackson-Cartwright back for the start of Pac-12 play, since UA doesn't play between its home game with New Mexico on Dec. 20 and its conference opener at California on Dec. 30.

Jackson-Cartwright's injury may have initially appeared minor, but Kokoskie said that was likely because of the adrenaline he had in the game and the fact that he wasn't putting pressure on it right away.\u00a0

While the UA basketball program has had its share of significant and season-ending injuries under Sean Miller, it hasn't had to deal with a high ankle sprain since Salim Stoudamire suffered one during his sophomore season of 2002-03.

Stoudamire hurt his ankle two weeks into October 2002 practices, then missed about a month of action -- the exhibition season and first two games of the regular season -- but wasn't fully himself until around New Year's that season.


Oregon State is dealing with injury adjustments of its own with Tres Tinkle having broken his wrist.


UCLA warmed up for what figures to be a fast-paced game with Kentucky on Saturday.


Those with access to Root Sports Northwest can get a look at Gonzaga against Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. Arizona time tonight.

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My wife comes home from work and asks \u201cIs Trier going to play?\u201d

She pronounces it TREE-are. She does not follow UA hoops.

But almost every day since Halloween she has returned from the medical center with the same question.

\u201cIs Trier going to play?\u201d

One of the internists wants to know. The trauma center nurse wants to know. The lady giving flu shots wants to know.

I shrug. \u201cIt\u2019s like Stonehenge,\u201d I say. \u201cNobody knows.\u201d

\u201cIt\u2019s your job to know,\u201d she says. \u201cWhat should I tell them?\u201d

And so before leaving for Wednesday\u2019s 85-63 victory over Texas Southern, I told her to expect Allonzo Trier to play in 2017.

\u201cFor Arizona?\u201d

\u201cEither Arizona,\u201d I say, \u201cor somebody else.\u201d

Do you have a better answer?

In what has become the most baffling case since D.B. Cooper, Allonzo Trier sits on the Arizona bench in a sweatsuit. Wednesday was Day 50 of Trier\u2019s forced idleness. The formula for Coca-Cola has been kept secret for 131 years; Arizona guards the reason for Trier\u2019s lack of eligibility with similar intent.

The school continues to list Trier in its game-day notes package. He is included in the \u201coff the bench\u201d group of nine players, but that list is misleading because it includes Talbott Denny and Ray Smith, both out for the year with knee injuries.

Because of the Mystery of the Missing Trier, Arizona\u2019s basketball season has essentially been shifted into neutral. Do these home games really matter? Sacred Heart one night, Cal State Bakersfield the next.

The Zona Zoo answered in absentia Wednesday night. It might have been the fewest UA students at a home game since the Kevin O\u2019Neill season. What is there to look forward to except an announcement of Trier\u2019s return or the latest bad news, the apparently serious ankle injury to point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright?

This month\u2019s home schedule is dreadful; do you realize only UC Irvine, Grand Canyon and New Mexico play at McKale Center in December?

Arizona had a better December home schedule 60 years ago, in December of 1956, when it played Hamline, NAU, Murray State, New Mexico State and Colorado State. Yes, Hamline, the Pipers from Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Nothing against Texas Southern, which is on its annual Tour Across America, an almost unprecedented 13-game series of consecutive road games, but Tigers coach Mike Davis told the Star\u2019s Bruce Pascoe on Monday that \u201cwe won\u2019t win.\u201d

It was only two years ago that Texas Southern, playing 13 consecutive road games to open the season, stunned mighty Michigan State 71-64 in East Lansing. And yet Davis put into perspective Arizona\u2019s dismal home schedule by admitting defeat before he arrived in Tucson to collect a $90,000 fee as a sacrificial basketball lamb.

Texas Southern didn\u2019t even have a radio broadcast team at the game. As far as can be remembered, for maybe 30 years, maybe 40, every visiting team at McKale has broadcast the game to their faraway fans.

Games at McKale Center this season are like something out of an Allen Iverson press conference. They seem like practice, man.

On Wednesday, for example, Arizona inserted sophomore walk-on Tyler Trillo in the first half, when the game was still somewhat contested. It became necessary for Trillo to play after Jackson-Cartwright jammed his ankle into a TSU opponent and spent the entire second half undergoing medical treatment.

Tyler Trillo? Ring a bell?

It does if you are a fan of Roger Williams University, a Division III team from Southbury, Connecticut. Trillo played for RWU in 2014-15 before transferring to Arizona to concentrate on academics but ultimately being awarded a non-scholarship spot on Sean Miller\u2019s injury-scarred roster. Not only didn\u2019t Trillo start for RWU, against teams like Johnson & Wales and Fitchburg State, he averaged just 1.1 points per game.

What many thought would be the Season of Trier has, by a series of misfortunate personnel losses, become the Season of Trillo.

I\u2019ve never seen Miller as somber as he was after Wednesday\u2019s game. Not even after season-ending losses to Bucknell and Wichita State. He was snippy and on edge, and he is rarely like that in a postgame media session.

Can you blame him?

Who will he lose next, Lauri Markkanen?

\u201cArguably our best player has never played,\u201d Miller said, referring to Ray Smith.

Asked who now becomes the UA\u2019s eighth man \u2014 Trillo perhaps? \u2014 Miller bit off three words: \u201cI don\u2019t know.\u201d

No one outside of Tucson is feeling sorry for Arizona, and especially not Gonzaga, which, given Arizona\u2019s personnel situation, now comes off as Godzilla.

\u201cThis is big-boy basketball on Saturday,\u201d UA guard Kadeem Allen said.

You wonder if Tyler Trillo will be up to it.

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If there\u2019s one common theme to Arizona\u2019s never-ending string of calamities this season, maybe it\u2019s in how innocuous most of them appear at first.

\uf06e Talbott Denny heads down to the campus rec center to play pick up ball \u2026 and tears an ACL.

\uf06e Ray Smith goes up for an uncontested layup in an exhibition game \u2026 and rips up his entire knee, then retires.

\uf06e Kadeem Allen shakes off a knee sprain to run coast-to-coast for a game-winning layup against Michigan State \u2026 then the injury swells up and prompts him to miss most of the next two games.

\uf06e Redshirting transfer Dylan Smith falls down in practice without anyone touching him ... and suffers a concussion that takes him away from leading the scout team.

\uf06e Parker Jackson-Cartwright gets caught in a screen against Texas Southern, appears banged up but walks off the court and into the locker room under his own power \u2026 and never comes back, having been found to have suffered a high-ankle sprain to his right ankle that likely will keep him out a month or more.

\uf06e And Allonzo Trier, well, there\u2019s a number of theories out there of what happened in his unusual case \u2026 but none of them involved him needing nearly two months to get an answer about his eligibility.

After UA issued the usual \u201cno comment\u201d warning about Trier prior to Wednesday\u2019s postgame news conference, Miller didn\u2019t elaborate much on his most recent issue.

He said he didn\u2019t even see the collision involving Jackson-Cartwright.

\u201cI don\u2019t know what happened,\u201d Miller said. \u201cHe turned his ankle. It\u2019s a high ankle sprain and a bad one.\u201d


While just about everyone left on the \u201chealthy & eligible\u201d portion of the UA roster will have more work to do without Jackson-Cartwright around, Kadeem Allen will likely have the biggest responsibility.

He\u2019ll now have to go back to being a fulltime point guard, while also being the Wildcats\u2019 top perimeter defender, for as many minutes as he can stand.

\u201cHe\u2019s already been asked to do a lot,\u201d Miller said. \u201cHe plays all three positions. With the teams I\u2019ve had very few players are ever asked to play three positions, especially in the first five games. But he's pretty much played the three positions every game, as did Lauri (Markkanen). Lauri played the five, the four and the three. Kadeem played the one, the two and the three. And that\u2019s what we have to do. We have seven players.\u201d

Allen says he\u2019s \u201cready for it,\u201d and Miller probably wouldn\u2019t doubt that much.

\u201cKadeem\u2019s one of the great leaders that I\u2019ve coached,\u201d Miller said. \u201cYou may not see that because he\u2019s not an outgoing verbal type of guy. But his effort level every day and really doing everything it takes to win, that\u2019s really what he\u2019s done and that\u2019s what he continues to do. He\u2019s our only senior and he\u2019s playing with his heart.\u201d


On top of praising Markkanen\u2019s considerable offensive skills, Miller said the Finnish big man has also been a sound ballhandler. Markkanen had five assists to no turnovers against Texas Southern, showing both passing skill and presence of mind in finding teammates when he was defended.

\u201cHe takes care of the ball,\u201d Miller said. \u201cSometimes a forward like him becomes a high-turnover players because they\u2019re doing so many different things that they have to adjust to college basketball. There\u2019s really no adjustment (for him). If he would have been able to stay out of foul trouble against Butler, he would have had another big, big night. That\u2019s really the only thing that\u2019s limited him so far.

\u201cHe was terrific tonight. Our team is starting to learn his value of when he\u2019s open you want to find him. But no doubt about it -- inside outside, from three. And in fairness to Lauri, he\u2019s playing three positions every game. That\u2019s not easy.\u201d


Keanu Pinder took a couple of three pointers, and made one of them. That was his first made three of the season.

Miller was less than thrilled.

\u201cIt\u2019s not a good shot for him or our team,\u201d Miller said. \u201cI don't think I\u2019ve ever seen him shoot a three-point shot other than the two he took tonight. That\u2019s not a good shot for him right now.

\u201cFifteen to 17 feet is good but Keanu has a special role on our team. He\u2019s a great defender, plays with a lot of energy, very athletic. He gives us a quickness up front that we need and he\u2019s been invaluable so far through seven games. But shooting\u2019s really not his forte. I was surprised as anyone when he made the one he shot.\u201d


While there wasn\u2019t really a scary moment for the Wildcats on Wednesday other than Jackson-Cartwright\u2019s injury, the second-half pace they were forced to play with might have foreshadowed some trouble ahead.

\u201cWe didn\u2019t push the ball very hard in the second half just because we were going to run out of gas,\u201d Miller said. \u201cWe tried to slow it down. That\u2019s not in our best interest. We\u2019re going to be better in transition \u2026 but being really responsible on offense, being selective on how fast we can push it, we have to be really smart because as you get against good teams you can really get in foul trouble. And it\u2019s not just seven players, it\u2019s one or two get in foul trouble and you have a hard time finishing the game.\u201d


All of our game coverage is attached to this post (except the seen-and-heard notebook, which is here), while the box score and updated stats are attached as PDFs.

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The Arizona Wildcats beat Texas Southern 85-63 Wednesday at McKale Center but, as is often the case with the Wildcats this season, it wasn\u2019t about the final score.

It was about another player who went missing.

This time, point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright went down with a high-ankle sprain about eight minutes into Wednesday\u2019s game. Jackson-Cartwright stayed in the game briefly while appearing to hobble, then left for good.

He did not return to the bench for the rest of the game, suggesting he was being examined by doctors and undergoing X-rays or other medical tests.

Coach Sean Miller said after the game that Jackson-Cartwright will be out \"for a considerable amount of time.\"

As far as the game itself, the Wildcats never had much trouble, taking and holding a double-digit lead after the first five minutes.

Arizona did it with defense , holding Texas Southern to just 39-percent shooting (32 percent from three-point range), and by shooting 63 percent themselves thanks in large part to another eye-opening performance from freshman Lauri Markkanen.

The big man from Finland scored 19 points and had six rebounds while making 5 of 6 three-pointers. Arizona made 8 of 14 threes overall.

Arizona also outrebounded Texas Southern 33-27 and outscored the Tigers in the paint 40-22, but was only able to take 10 free throws and hit just five of them.

The Wildcats expanded a 45-26 halftime lead to up to 23 points in the second half but had trouble pulling further away without Jackson-Cartwright. Texas Southern pulled within 70-57 after going on a 7-0 run that featured a three-pointer from Jamie Rutherford, a tipin by Derrick Griffin and a layup by Zach Lofton.

In the first half, Markkanen had 11 points with three three-pointers to help Arizona Wildcats take a 45-26 halftime lead.

Jackson-Cartwright's absence forced the shorthanded Wildcats to play walk-on Tyler Trillo briefly in the first half, and Trillo also made an appearance early in the second half.

Markkanen was 3 of 3 from three point territory and also had three rebounds while Kadeem Allen had 10 points and three rebounds.

Arizona jumped on Texas Southern right away, holding the Tigers to 1-for-5 shooting and helping create three turnovers while building a 10-2 lead over the first four minutes.

The Wildcats went on to build a 25-9 lead on two straight three pointers from Markkanen, and never led by single digits the rest of the half.

The Wildcats wound up shooting 57.1 percent from the field while holding Texas Southern to just 37 percent. The Tigers also made just 2 of 11 three-pointers.

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The Arizona Wildcats lost point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright to a significant ankle sprain Wednesday, which means there\u2019s really only one question left to ask.

What\u2019s next?

\u201cSomeone could get hurt tomorrow,\u201d UA coach Sean Miller said. \u201cThat\u2019s just the way it is.\u201d

In an 85-63 win over Texas Southern on Wednesday, the Wildcats received another eye-opening offensive show from freshman 7-footer Lauri Markkanen \u2014 including 5 of 6 3-pointers \u2014 and the kind of aggressive defense Miller aims for.

Yet all that became a footnote when they lost Jackson-Cartwright for what Miller called a \u201csignificant amount of time\u201d with a high ankle sprain suffered in the first half.

While the exact severity and timetable of Jackson-Cartwright\u2019s injury aren\u2019t known, a high ankle sprain suggests Jackson-Cartwright will be out until at least the start of Pac-12 play, trimming the Wildcats\u2019 stable of healthy, eligible scholarship players back to just seven.

Because they have already had ACL tears take out Ray Smith and Talbott Denny \u2013 and because guard Allonzo Trier\u2019s quest for eligibility has been stalled for nearly two months \u2013 the Wildcats have been shorthanded since the season began.

They had seven players for their two exhibition games, when center Chance Comanche was suspended over academic issues, and for their Nov. 15 game with Cal State Bakersfield, when Kadeem Allen was out with a sprained knee.

While Miller said often last season he had never seen the kind of injury string he had then \u2013 including injuries to center Kaleb Tarczewski and Trier that kept each out a month \u2013 now he has a potentially longer string of even more serious injuries to deal with.

So, asked if it was worse this year, Miller offered a short response that was all too typical of his subdued postgame news conference Wednesday.

\u201cWe\u2019ve had two ACLs,\u201d Miller said. \u201cArguably our best player (Smith) has never played.

\u201cThat\u2019s the starting point. So where we go from here, I don\u2019t know.\u201d

There were bright sides for Miller to look at Wednesday, and he did. The Wildcats, facing a low-major opponent in between a loss at Butler and a showdown Saturday against Gonzaga, showed zero signs of a letdown right from the start Wednesday.

They jumped on Texas Southern right away, holding the Tigers to 1-for-5 shooting and helping create three turnovers while building a 10-2 lead over the first four minutes. UA went on to build a 25-9 lead on two straight three-pointers from Markkanen, and never led by single digits the rest of the half.

While the Wildcats weren\u2019t able to run away from the Tigers in the second half without Jackson-Cartwright, leading by only 13 points with 6:25 to go, their defense remained strong and their offense overwhelming for their Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent.

Arizona held Texas Southern to just 39 percent shooting overall (32 percent from 3-point range), and shot 63 percent themselves. Of course, Markkanen singlehandedly pumped up that percentage, making 7 of 9 shots from the field and 5 of 6 3s. He also had five assists, six rebounds and two blocks, with no turnovers.

\u201cHe\u2019s an excellent player. An excellent offensive player,\u201d Miller said, already running out of adjectives to describe his standout freshman. \u201cAbout as good an offensive player as I have seen. He takes care of the ball as well. \u2026 Our team is starting to learn his value when to find him.\u201d

On almost any other night, Markkanen would have been the story all by himself. But Jackson-Cartwright left the game with 12:27 left and did not return. He took X-rays that Miller said were negative, though the sprain itself might cost the Wildcats dearly in the near future.

Without Jackson-Cartwright, Arizona\u2019s already-heavy reliance on senior guard Kadeem Allen will become even more acute, with him taking on fulltime point guard duties while freshman Kobi Simmons \u2013 now the starting two-guard \u2014 is likely to scoot over as his backup.

Markkanen, meanwhile, will be forced to play both forward spots more often and even natural small forward Rawle Alkins is being asked to dial back to the shooting guard role.

Everybody pays.

\u201cI\u2019m ready for it,\u201d Allen said.

Certainly, Allen showed as much on the court Wednesday. In 31 minutes, he had 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting, six rebounds, seven assists, a steal and only two turnovers.

\u201cI just put it together tonight and had a good game,\u201d he said.

But while Arizona leaned heavily on Allen, the Wildcats also turned to walk-on guard Tyler Trillo to play three minutes when the game was still in some doubt, and they may have to in the future.

Ironically, or maybe even ominously, the Wildcats even added a fourth walk-on before Thursday\u2019s game, freshman guard Kody Jones of Virginia. They called Jones back after a walkon tryout earlier this fall that initially only resulted in Trillo joining the team.

Now there may be another. Miller said he isn\u2019t considering borrowing a UA football player but he might look around to see who else tested well during that tryout, or find another body somewhere else on campus.

\u201cWe might have to. That\u2019s something we have to take a look at,\u201d Miller said. \u201cUsually you have more than seven scholarship players. So we\u2019ll do the best we can.\u201d

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Arizona has added a fourth walk-on to its roster, 6-3 freshman Kory Jones of Herndon, Va.

The Wildcats already added guard Tyler Trillo this season and now have four walk-ons overall, but sought another this fall when redshirting guard Dylan Smith suffered a concussion.

Without Smith, who was the key player on the scout team in practice, the Wildcats have nine healthy scholarship players available for practice, counting Allonzo Trier (who has been practicing at home during his eligibility battle) plus the four walk-ons.

Jones helped his high school team win the Virginia 6A title last season. Some of his highlights are here.


Oregon State's Stephen Thompson Jr. is hoping to return\u00a0from a foot injury on Thursday.


The defense of USC's De'Anthony Melton has played a role in the Trojans' early success this season.


MLive.com put together an interesting photo collection on what a game day is like at Duke.


ICYMI, some UA pregame notes and links are here.

"} ]