Hours after suffering a huge loss, one that may kill any chance of making a deep NCAA tournament run, Arizona pulled out one of its most improbable victories of the season in winning 75-65 at Oregon State.
The Wildcats announced Thursday afternoon that junior guard Allonzo Trier, their second-leading scorer, had been declared ineligible by the NCAA after testing positive for a banned substance. Per the school, which has appealed the decision, it was a re-occurrence of the substance that caused him to miss the first 19 games of last season.
Not having Trier creating offense with his perimeter shooting and penchant for getting to the line forced No. 14 Arizona (22-6, 12-3 Pac-12) to look elsewhere for production. The result was one of its most sluggish offensive outputs of the season—at least until overtime, when the Wildcats outscored Oregon State 14-4.
Here’s what we learned about Arizona, which for the foreseeable future has to go without one of its biggest playmakers.
Deandre Ayton is still the best offensive option
As explosive as Allonzo Trier can be, he has had the tendency to run cold when his shot doesn’t fall and he’s not getting the foul calls. There’s far less inconsistency when Arizona feeds its freshman big man, even when opponents collapse their entire defense on him.
Deandre Ayton finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, going 7 of 12 from the field. He was only 2 of 6 in the field half but then started taking full advantage of his 7-foot-1 frame with 7 points in a 1:57 span midway through the second half. Several of his baskets were the result of him being in perfect position to take a missed shot from a teammate and jam it home.
Ayton, the hands-down frontrunner for Pac-12 Player of the Year, had 4 offensive rebounds as part of his 18 th double-double in 28 games.
Rawle Alkins doesn’t quit
With Allonzo Trier out, there are plenty of extra shots to go around. Sophomore wing Rawle Alkins stepped up to grab some of those available attempts, taking 11 shots.
He only made 4, and was just 2 of 9 in regulation. But a pair of huge three-pointers in overtime gave the Wildcats a much-needed cushion and they wouldn’t have gotten to the extra period had he not drained a pair of free throws—with Oregon State calling timeout before each one—with 14.2 seconds left to tie the game at 61.
Alkins’ 16 points and 8 rebounds didn’t come easy, but they also didn’t come as the result of a lack of trying.
Arizona must get more from its bench
With sophomore Dylan Smith starting in place of Allonzo Trier, Arizona had to look elsewhere for reliable bench production. It got that in the first half, as four reserves combined for 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting as the Wildcats built an 8-point halftime lead.
Arizona has more bench points in the first half tonight (14) than in 11 of its first 14 conference games.
Randolph 4 points
— Dominic Baciocco (@DominicBaciocco) February 23, 2018
That quartet was scoreless in the second half, taking only three shots, with Keanu Pinder missing a pair of free throws in a 1-point game with 5:05 left. And Smith had just 3 points on 1-of-4 shooting, all from 3-point range.
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