Reactions of Arizona’s season-opening victory over Pacific


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Arizona senior newcomers Ryan Anderson (12) and Mark Tollefsen lifted the Wildcats past Pacific (YouTube video)

Arizona senior newcomers Ryan Anderson (12) and Mark Tollefsen lifted the Wildcats past Pacific (YouTube video)




Pac-12 Networks analyst Matt Muehlebach offered great insight all night while announcing the Pacific-Arizona game, including when he noted Sean Miller did not look as frustrated as he did in his first six seasons in Tucson.

A lot of that has to do with the senior-laden starting lineup. If he was outwardly intense with them, that would be odd.

Of course, his calm resolve also had a lot to do with Arizona never seriously threatened by a shorthanded Pacific team in the 79-61 victory at McKale Center. The Tigers, playing without three starters because of an academic inquiry by the school, shot 36.8 percent from the field but it could have been a lot worse.

Pacific made 46.7 percent of its shots in the second half, including 55.6 percent (5 of 9) from three-point range.

The Tigers’ late surge — when Miller inserted three freshmen and two sophomores — was the only time the coach really looked peeved. He replaced the lineup of Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier, Justin Simon, Dusan Ristic and Chance Comanche with his senior-laded starting lineup at the end of the game.

“The air in the building went out during that two and a half minute stretch,” Miller said about the sequence with the young players, “but it’s a great opportunity to get better.”

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THE POSITIVES:

— Boston College senior transfer Ryan Anderson achieved his 21st career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He went to the free-throw line 11 times and made eight of them. He was also 5 of 8 from the field.

Gabe York’s three-point shooting (3 of 5) bailed the Wildcats out of an otherwise inefficient evening from beyond the arc. The other players made only 3 of 15 from there. York finished with 13 points in 24 minutes.

— Reserve center Dusan Ristic made his presence known as a rebounder with 11 in 16 minutes. Eight were on the defensive end, matching Anderson’s total.

— The Wildcats out-rebounded Pacific 51-28, including 17-5 on the offensive boards and 34-23 on the defensive end.

Mark Tollefsen’s first game with Arizona started slow but he ended strong with 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting from the field with five rebounds and three blocked shots.

— Arizona made 25 of 32 shots from the free-throw line, which in recent years was hit or miss for the Wildcats.

Kadeem Allen was not as productive in the second half but what he showed with his passes (five assists with only one turnover) in the first half was a sight to behold. A scorer in JC, Allen is not looking for his shot; he’s setting up others nicely.

THE OPPORTUNITIES:

— Freshman guard Allonzo Trier, the sixth man in this game, made only one shot out of 10 attempts, belying his sweet stroke. Trier was 1 of 6 from three-point range. He had more turnovers (two) than made baskets.

— Arizona had more turnovers (14) than assists (12). Jackson-Cartwright committed three turnovers with only two assists in 22 minutes. Jackson-Cartwright and Trier, a combined 2 of 16 from the field, will have better days.

OF NOTE:

— Trier and Anderson tied for the team lead with 26 minutes each. Five other players had at least 22 minutes. Ristic played 16 minutes.

— Junior guard Elliott Pitts missed the game because of a minor knee injury. Miller said Pitts may return for Arizona’s game Monday night against Bradley at McKale Center.




ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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