Arizona’s long-awaited reunion with New Mexico was a mismatch from the start.
The Wildcats took an early 12-0 lead while the Lobos missed their first 11 shots, and Arizona was never challenged while winning 77-46 at McKale Center in the first game between the regional rivals in 17 seasons.
Arizona had five players score in double figures, with freshman guard Rawle Alkins collecting his first double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomore center Chance Comanche had a career high 14 points. Lauri Markkanen added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Although the Wildcats and Lobos had played each other 125 times over the past century, having competed together in the Border and Western Athletic conferences, the series went dormant after former coach Lute Olson vowed not to schedule the Lobos again following a controversial 1998-99 loss.
The teams played once more, with New Mexico winning in 1999-2000 at McKale Center, because that game was already on the schedule prior to Olson’s declaration.
But while the Lobos pulled off that last win just before Christmas 1999 at McKale Center, the Wildcats have had no trouble showing motivation in their final game before the Christmas break under coach Sean Miller -- and Tuesday was no exception.
New Mexico didn’t score until forward Tim Williams made a jumper nearly six minutes into the game, to make it 12-2, and the Lobos never did cut the Wildcats lead to single digits after that point.
Arizona built leads of as high as 30 points in the second half, finishing nonconference play at 11-2. The Wildcats will take four days off for a break, then return on Christmas Day to begin preparing for the Pac-12 season.
New Mexico missed its first 11 field goals and shot just 22.6 percent for the first half, missing all six 3-pointers it attempted. They weren’t much better in the second half, finishing at 26.6 percent and 2-for-13 from 3-point territory.
Arizona shot 50 percent from the field and finished the game playing all four of its walk-ons, first with Alkins and then with forward Keanu Pinder.
While the Wildcats never let up in this one, in contrast to the way Texas A&M went on a late 18-0 run against them on Saturday, Kadeem Alllen also had a chance for redemption. Allen had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists after going 0 for 6 from the field against the Aggies last Saturday.
The Wildcats were without sophomore guard Allonzo Trier, who sat out again because of an ongoing NCAA eligibility issue.
Trier has missed all 13 of the Wildcats' games, plus two exhibition games, for reasons that neither UA nor the NCAA will comment on.
UA coach Sean Miller has said, however, that Trier has been cleared to travel with the Wildcats and that his situation has nothing to do with the academic calendar.
The Wildcats are playing again with just seven active scholarship players, with guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright still out because of a high ankle sprain. However, Jackson-Cartwright could return as early as the Wildcats' Pac-12 opener on Dec. 30 against Cal.