No. 14 Arizona overcomes slow start, runs past Cal 79-58
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Some games, Sean Miller notices an anxiety with his Arizona team immediately after tipoff.
He sure saw that at California on Wednesday night, when the Wildcats needed a firm talk about taking care of the ball.
Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 14 Arizona overcame a slow, sloppy start by warming up from long range against a high zone to beat Cal 79-58.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 14 points with three 3-pointers during a decisive stretch spanning halftime as the Wildcats won their third straight since losing at Colorado on Jan. 6.
“I don’t think offense is our issue,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “If we turn the ball over and give teams possessions the game feels funny. We talked about it.”
Dylan Smith made all four of his 3s and added 14 points in a fill-in start and Allonzo Trier scored 15 as Arizona (15-4, 5-1 Pac-12) played without sophomore guard Rawle Alkins, held out as a precaution with what the school said was mild right foot soreness.
“Parker, he can really shoot it. I thought him and Dylan both in the first half were a big reason we had the 10-point lead,” Miller said. “Cal’s zone is very extended. You watch it on film, I think it’s one of those defenses sometimes your players have to get into a rhythm and understand and get a sense of how to move the ball against it. ... Once we got through that stretch, no doubt turnovers plagued us throughout but we also had some good moments. Deandre Ayton was the difference.”
Justice Sueing scored 19 points to lead Cal (7-12, 1-5) but missed all six of his 3-point attempts for the cold-shooting Golden Bears, held to 35.3 percent and outrebounded 36-22. Don Coleman had 11 points but shot just 3 of 13.
Ayton made 9 of 11 shots and Arizona shot 62 percent, going 11 for 19 from deep.
Arizona connected on six straight 3-pointers from the 9:20 mark until 2:32 left before halftime to take control, three by Jackson-Cartwright, then seven in all spanning halftime. Cal got within single digits, down by nine, for all of 17 seconds in the second half.
The Wildcats went four possessions until getting their first shot off while committing three quick turnovers and falling behind 6-0. They had turnovers on six of their initial nine possessions and 21 overall but still wound up shooting 70 percent in the opening half.
Arizona won its fourth straight in the series, outscoring Cal 33-3 on 3-pointers.
“Part of it is guys forcing the issue, but part of it is also using more clock to get a good shot,” Cal coach Wyking Jones said. “In conference, everybody knows what everybody wants to run. In order to get a good shot, you have to work a little harder, you have to execute more, you have to do a better job of setting the screen.”
X-rayn on Alkins’ injured foot were negative, though Miller wasn’t counting on him being ready for Saturday at Stanford. Arizona won’t take any risks with him. Alkins’ foot began bothering him in practice Monday then more so Tuesday, but he was making progress by Wednesday.
Miller called it a “possibility” Alkins would play against the Cardinal but “If he’s still in pain he won’t.”
Arizona: Arizona’s starters committed 13 turnovers. The Pac-12′s top team from the free throw line, the Wildcats followed up a 34-of-37 showing at the line against Oregon last Saturday — the program’s first time at 90 percent or higher with at least 35 attempts since going 38 of 40 (.950) vs. Washington on Jan. 27, 2005, a span of 454 games — by shooting just 13 free throws and making six. Arizona came in shooting 85.3 percent at the line. ... The Wildcats are 18-11 in Pac-12 road games played in the state of California under Miller since 2009. Miller also is 12-4 vs. Cal.
Cal: The Bears starters were 12 for 43 with 12 of the team’s 14 turnovers. ... Kingsley Okoroh, a 7-foot-1 center, scored 10 points to post his first game in double figures scoring since Nov. 16 against Wofford. ... Cal has beaten ranked Arizona teams 11 times, including No. 1 four years ago at Haas Pavilion. While the Bears averaged 54.5 points over their recent road trip to Washington and Washington State last weekend, they hurt their chances with a 1-for-13 shooting performance from 3-point range but made 21 of 30 free throws.
Arizona: At Stanford on Saturday afternoon.
Cal: Hosts Arizona State on Saturday night.
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