No. 8 Wildcats pull away to beat Northern Colorado
TUCSON, Ariz. — Parker Jackson-Cartwright took over as starting point guard for Arizona this season.
He's handled the takeover as well as he handles the basketball.
Jackson-Cartwright had 15 points, a career-high 11 assists and one turnover in 34 minutes in the eighth-ranked Wildcats' 71-55 victory over Northern Colorado on Monday night.
“Tonight was Parker's best game at Arizona, in my opinion,” Wildcats coach Sean Miller said, “because everything he did was important.”.
Over the past two games, Jackson-Cartwright had 15 assists and one turnover.
“I was just ultra-aggressive,” he said. “My teammates give me confidence every day, in practice and in games. I was just doing what my coaches told me and feeding off my teammates' energy.”
Lauri Markkanen scored 17 points and Kadeem Allen 10 for the Wildcats (4-0).
Jordan Davis scored 20 for the Bears (1-3). Chaz Glotta, a transfer from Southern Illinois, made 5 of 11 3-pointers for 15 points.
Northern Colorado is in a tough stretch to start the season.
“We started the season at Butler, we are on the fourth day of an eight-day road trip,” first-year coach Jeff Linder said. “We get back Saturday and travel out to Norman, Olaying teams like Arizona, even though we're not into moral victories, prepares our guys to win.”
The Wildcats outscored the Bears 34-16 over the final 12:15.
But most of the night, Northern Colorado — picked by coaches and the media to finish near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference — gave the Wildcats all they could handle.
Northern Colorado bothered the Wildcats most of the night with a tight 2-3 zone defense.
“It's the first time this year's team has really gone against a zone,” Miller said. “That first time you really rely on your older guys and, unfortunately for us, we have a ton of new faces, so we had a deer in the headlights look.”
The Bears were up 31-30 at the half and Glotta's 3-pointer put them ahead 39-37 with 14:11 remaining.
But Jackson-Cartwright drove inside, was fouled and converted the three-point play that put the Wildcats ahead for good, 40-39, with 12:15 to go. The play ignited an 11-2 run, capped by Markkanen's two free throws that gave Arizona a 48-41 lead with 9:25 to go.
The Bears twice cut it to four before Arizona pulled away.
Neither team led by more than four points in the first 20 minutes.
Markkanen's soaring tip-in of Parker Jackson-Cartwright's miss just before the buzzer cut the Bears' lead to 31-30 at the break.
Northern Colorado: The Bears look a lot better than was forecast with the tough zone, if Davis plays that well and Glotta keeps knocking down 3s.
Arizona: The young Wildcats got a taste of what they well could face in Pac-12 play when they faced the zone defense. After struggling against it mightily, they finally figured it out to make the final score more one-sided than the game actually was.
Still no word on why Allonzo Trier isn't playing. The sophomore guard, a member of the Pac-12 all-freshman team last season, sat near the far end of the bench in sweat pants during Monday night's game.
The university has declined to comment on why Trier hasn't been in uniform.
The two leading scorers from last year's Northern Colorado team are sitting out the season as redshirts. The move came as the school issued voluntarily banished itself from postseason play this season for undisclosed rule violations. No word on whether the NCAA will isssue additional penalties.
Northern Colorado: The Bears play Sacred Heart in the Las Vegas Classic on Wednesday.
Arizona: The Wildcats also head to the Las Vegas Classic, facing Santa Clara on Thursday night. The winner faces winner of the Butler-Vanderbilt game.
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