Returning home after a disastrous trip to paradise last week, the Arizona Wildcats showed some much-needed signs of life in a 91-56 win over Long Beach State on Wednesday at McKale Center.
Deandre Ayton contributed 13 points and nine rebounds, just shy of what would have been his sixth double double in seven games, but he only played 25 minutes against the 49ers. Allonzo Trier led the Wildcats with 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting.
The Wildcats shot 60 percent overall and 54.5 percent from 3-point range, after they shot just 18.5 percent from 3 in the Bahamas last week. Their 12 made 3-pointers were two more than they made in three games last week, too.
Defensively, the Wildcats held Long Beach State to just 41.2 percent shooting overall and 30 percent from 3-point range. The 49ers also had 19 turnovers that led to 27 Arizona points.
Arizona (4-3) managed to extend its nonconference homecourt streak to 44 games, the third-longest such streak in college basketball. The Wildcats will play their first true road game of the season Saturday at UNLV.
The Wildcats pretty much put the game away over the middle of the second half, when they went on a 9-0 run to take a 76-43 lead with 7:21 left. Arizona finished the run with a textbook transition play, with Deandre Ayton pulling down a defensive rebound, passing to point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who fired it to Allonzo Trier for an easy layup.
Jackson-Cartwright finished the game with 12 points, five assists, three steals and only one turnover.
Up 42-24 at halftime, Arizona let up defensively early in the second half but made up for it with an efficient offense. Long Beach State outscored UA 11-10 over the first four minutes of the second half but still fell behind 60-39 with 11:58 left – because the Wildcats had made 8 of 10 field goals to that point, scoring the last bucket on a layup by Allonzo Trier that resulted from a steal by Alex Barcello.
Deandre Ayton had 10 points and eight rebounds to lead the Wildcats, while Allonzo Trier and Parker Jackson-Cartwright had eight each.
The Wildcats shot 50 percent overall and 46.2 percent on 3-pointers, after their inefficient offense proved costly in losses to North Carolina State, SMU and Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. In those three games, UA shot 45.2 percent from the field but just 18.5 percent from 3-point range.
Arizona also improved dramatically on defense. Long Beach State shot just 37 percent, made only 2 of 8 3-pointers and had eight turnovers that led to 11 Arizona points.
While energy inside McKale Center appeared minimal at the beginning of the game – possibly due to the early start and/or the Wildcats’ 0-3 performance in the Bahamas last week – the Wildcats jumped on the 49ers early.
Arizona went on an 11-0 run to take a 13-4 lead, getting four points from Ayton and a 3-pointer from Parker Jackson-Cartwright during that stretch. Over the first 12 minutes, Arizona hit 6 of 10 3-pointers.