In what may have been one of the best games of his Arizona Wildcats career Friday at ASU, center Kaleb Tarczewski posted 13 points and 13 rebounds.
But those numbers may not have been the most meaningful, if you consider the plight of Arizona’s depth situation the rest of this season.
The number that may have been more important was 45, the number of minutes he played.
Tarczewski sat out for only five minutes of UA’s 69-66 double-overtime loss at ASU, staying effective and avoiding fouling out in a game when the Wildcats received only 22 combined minutes and no points from their bench.
“That was one of Kaleb’s best games, no question about it — he was really active,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “I kind of look at him right now and am really proud of his effort because in a game like this against a guy like (ASU’s Jordan Bachynski), I think he really showed how talented he is.
“To me, one of the reasons we were in the game and had a chance to win was because of Kaleb’s performance.”
The Wildcats tried to rely just as heavily on their other starters. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Nick Johnson each played 45 minutes, Aaron Gordon played 46 and T.J. McConnell logged 47.
Gordon collected 13 points and 10 rebounds, but was 3 for 8 from the free-throw line. Hollis-Jefferson played well all over the court but Miller cited him for some late defensive lapses. Johnson missed 5 of 6 three-pointers and was 5 for 20 overall.
And McConnell, steady for nearly all of this season, had six assists to two turnovers.
“Taking care of the ball is big and you look at those turnovers, they’re kind of like missed free throws,” Miller said. “They continue to put more and more pressure against you.”
The bench didn’t relieve the starters from any of the pressure, either. Gabe York went 0 for 6 from the field, missing four three-pointers, while grabbing three rebounds in 14 minutes. Elliott Pitts was 0 for 2, while Jordin Mayes and Matt Korcheck had neither a point nor a rebound. Korcheck did have a steal from Jahii Carson late in the first half, however.
Life wasn’t much easier for ASU’s starters: Three of them logged 45 minutes or more, but the Sun Devils did have seven players total with 18 minutes or more.
“Playing in overtime is always tough,” Bachynski said. “It takes a toll on your body. I was cramping up a little bit, and we were playing against a phenomenal UA team.”
Arizona players weren’t made available for comment afterward but Miller indicated the minutes took a toll on them.
“There’s nothing we can do and they didn’t sub a lot either,” Miller said. “It was one heck of a game. Someone had to win and someone had to lose. Unfortunately, we’re the loser.”