CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two of the scarier sights for the Arizona Wildcats appeared again Thursday – Gill Coliseum and a zone defense to play against – but the nightmares lasted only a half this time.
Arizona pulled out a 71-54 win over Oregon State at Gill Coliseum after shooting just 34.6 percent against the Beaver zone defense in the first half and trailing 29-27 at halftime – despite the fact that OSU is without leading scorer Tres Tinkle and hasn’t won a Pac-12 game all season.
The win moved UA to 21-2 and 10-0 in the Pac-12 heading into its showdown Saturday against Oregon in Eugene. The Beavers dropped to 4-19 and 0-10.
UA turned it around by getting more aggressive against the zone and turning often to Allonzo Trier, who was playing his fourth game back after a 19-game suspension for a positive PED test. Trier often drove inside while collecting 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
The Wildcats went on a 28-5 run through the middle of the second half to take control of the game, while shooting nearly 60 percent in the second half to finish at 45 percent for the game. UA also held OSU to just 34.6-percent shooting in the second half while the Beavers shot 50 percent before halftime.
Stephen Thompson Jr. led OSU in scoring with 16 points.
In the first half, the Wildcats shot just 34.6 percent from the field and couldn’t get a field goal from leading scorer Lauri Markkanen, who was 0 for 5. Markkanen also had a pair of turnovers.
Markkanen finished with eight points and nine rebounds, held in single-digit points for only the second time this season and first time in Pac-12 play.
Arizona pulled out to an early 14-6 lead after two straight 3-pointers from Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who hadn’t made more than two 3s in a game all season. OSU’s only early scorer, forward Drew Eubanks, picked up a second foul and sat out much of the first half, too.
But UA still ran into trouble. OSU took a 23-20 lead with 4:49 to go after Kendal Manuel and Stephen Thompson Jr. hit 3-pointers, with Markkanen’s errant pass to Allonzo Trier resulting in a turnover that ultimately led to Thompson’s 3.
While two free throws from UA's Dusan Ristic tied it at 23 entering the final media timeout of the half (3:34 left to play), at that point, UA was shooting just 36.4 percent from the field while Markkanen was 0 for 5 with two turnovers.