Following their loss to the Butler Bulldogs over the long holiday weekend, the Arizona Wildcats returned to the McKale Center to attempt to right the ship. They did just that as they cruised to an 85-63 victory on Wednesday night.
Freshman sensation Lauri Markkanen continues to lead the way for the Wildcats. He scored 19 points, tied for the game high, 7-9 shooting from the field. The most impressive part about his shooting was where his shots occured.
Overall, the PAC-12 giants proved to be too much for the school out of the SWAC, as each one of the Arizona starters, except for the injured Parker Jackson-Cartwright, scored in double figures. Kobi Simmons made up for that by adding 15 off the bench.
Texas Southern's leading scorer, Zach Lofton, continued to find the hoop for the visitors, equaling Markkanen's point total with 19 of his own.
It did not take long for Arizona to find their footing in this contest as they jumped out to a big lead very quickly. In a little under seven minutes, the Wildcats had built up a 15 point advantage.
One of the key plays of this run happened at the 14:51 mark of the opening half. Arizona forced a turnover in the paint before heading out on a fast break. Kobi Simmons could have had an easy lay in, but instead, he passed the ball behind him to Rawle Alkins. The big freshman slammed home an emphatic dunk to really capitalize on the brewing momentum.
Simmons and Alkins had a connection going on Wednesday night. In consecutive plays, the pair exchanged a couple of alley-oops to get the crowd energized in a one-sided affair.
The lead kept growing and growing despite Texas Southern's attempts to get back into the game. However, Arizona answered every TSU shot by making three or four in a row. By the time halftime rolled around, the Wildcats were already up by 19 points.
With the end in sight in the second and final stanza, the Wildcats continued to cruise for the rest of the night. Their play was slightly dimminished with the loss of their starting point guard, but they still had enough talent to get the job done.
Injuries seem to be a plague for Arizona basketball this season, especially after losing Ray Smith in an exhibition game to start the year.
Tonight, however, the Wildcats lost another player -- Parker Jackson-Cartwright. PJC, as he is known, went down with a high ankle sprain. While we do not know the exact amount of time, Sean Miller, the Arizona head coach, says that he will be out "for a considerable amount of time," (quotes via tucson.com).
The Wildcats head to the Staples Center this coming weekend to face their last stern test before conference play heats up. In Los Angeles, Califonia, they will face off against an always tough Gonzaga Bulldogs.