Kadeem Allen returned to the Arizona Wildcats on Friday after missing a game with a sprained knee.
The Wildcats hardly needed him. Or a three-point shot, for that matter.
UA made just 1 of its first 15 three-pointers but still rolled over Sacred Heart 95-65 at McKale Center, showing off athleticism and size the smaller Pioneers often could not stop.
Arizona 7-footer Dusan Ristic was a most obvious example: He hit the double-double mark with 11 points and 13 rebounds just eight minutes into the second half, having already beaten his career high in rebounds of 11 set last season against Pacific.
Ristic finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds while UA had six players in double figure scoring. Lauri Markkanen, held to just eight points and a rebound in the first half, finished with 22 points and six rebounds, while Rawle Alkins had 18 points and five rebounds.
Arizona finished the game at 3 of 19 from three-point range yet shot 48.6 percent overall because of their inside shooting. Sacred Heart was held to 37.9 percent from the field.
Defensively the Wildcats effectively contained Sacred Heart’s top scorer, Quincy McKnight, in the first half. But McKnight, who took just two shots before halftime, heated up after halftime, finishing with 22 points.
Arizona coach Sean Miller played his walk-ons considerably late in the game, first inserting guard Tyler Trillo with 11:30 left.
In the first half, UA romped to a 49-25 lead. The Wildcats made just 1 of 10 three-pointers they took in the half but made up for it with their inside efficiency, getting a variety of dunks and inside shots. UA hit 17 of 24 shots from two point territory.
Ristic nearly had a double-double in the first half alone to lead Arizona, collecting nine points and 10 rebounds.
Arizona broke the game open toward the end of the first half, going on an acrobatic 16-3 run until the final media timeout with 3:54 left.
In the middle of the run, UA forward Keanu Pinder swatted away a shot from Sacred Heart’s Sean Hoehn, while Chance Comanche and Kobi Simmons later dunked, Simmons doing so after he intercepted a pass in Sacred Heart’s backcourt and raced down the court.
Pinder then added a dunk of his own to make it 43-18.
Allen returned to the floor after missing Tuesday’s game with Cal State Bakersfield, though Simmons still started in his place at shooting guard.
Miller said on his pregame radio show Friday that Allen was not at 100 percent but wasn't at risk of hurting the knee further. Allen's return gave UA eight available scholarship players.
"We’re not putting him more at risk," Miller said. "We’re gonna play him some. Obviously the depth is vital to have eight, No. 1 for foul trouble and No. 2, (to avoid) fatigue in the second half."
Allen suffered the knee sprain a week ago in a collision with a Michigan State player in Honolulu. He was scheduled to return to practice only for noncontact drills Thursday, and Miller said earlier that day that Allen's game status would depend on how his knee responded to workouts Thursday and earlier Friday.
Allen is the Wildcats' oldest player and started their two exhibitions and the Michigan State game at shooting guard. He made the game-winning layup to beat the Spartans despite having injured the knee 12 minutes earlier.
While Allen is back, guard Allonzo Trier is again in street clothes with an apparent eligibility issue, having missed Arizona's two exhibition games and two regular-season games so far. UA will not categorize why Trier is not playing.
Arizona recruiting target Shareef O'Neal and his famous father, Shaq, watched the game from behind the south basket at McKale Center, because the younger O'Neal is on an unofficial recruiting visit.
Shareef is a five-star, 6-foot-9 high school junior at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Calif., where he is a teammate of new UA signee Ira Lee.
“The vibe in Tucson is great!!” Shareef tweeted before the game. “Everyone here is showing a lot of love.”
In an interview with the Star during the July recruiting circuit, Shareef said he wanted to take a closer look at the Wildcats.
“I’m interested in Arizona,” Shareef said. “I haven’t really gotten to look at how their playing style is, but I’ve seen the campus, and the campus is nice. But I want to pay more attention to how they play.”