Dominating Second Half Lifts Arizona Basketball over Oregon State 71-54

The Arizona Wildcats moved up to No. 5 in the nation this week and head into Corvallis for a showdown with the Beavers.

It was a tale of two halves for the Arizona Wildcats Thursday night. Led by Allonzo Trier with 18 points, the Wildcats used a dominant second half to put away Oregon State 71-54.

Arizona has now won 15 games in a row and holds on to the top spot in the Pac-12 at 10-0. The undefeated start is the best start in conference play since the 1997-1998 season.

Heading into Thursday night’s game, Sean Miller and the Wildcats haven’t had the best time in Corvallis. Arizona is 2-3 when playing at Oregon State since Sean Miller became the Cats head coach.

Oregon State had a 0-9 record in the Pac-12, but you wouldn’t have guessed it after watching the first half. Thursday night was a classic trap game with Oregon up next on the schedule.

The Beavers came out of the gate the least bit intimated by the No. 5 team in the nation. On both ends of the floor, Oregon State was more aggressive, energized and under control. Their 2-3 zone was extending far out and causing Arizona problems.

Arizona was very hesitant on offense, which was the same issue against Washington. The Wildcats were settling for three’s instead of attacking the zone. At least for the first half, the faults from the Washington game carried over to Thursday night.

The Wildcats were slow on defense, allowing the Beavers to get easy drives and get the ball into the post quickly. Instead of seeing emotion and energy, Arizona players instead looked around at each other with blank stares.

Oregon State took advantage of the easy shots Arizona was giving up. The Beavers shot 50-percent from the field in the first half and took a 29-27 lead into halftime. Arizona, on the other hand, was only 35-percent from the field.

The second half was an entirely different story. Oregon State and Arizona traded buckets a couple of times before tying the game 34-34 with 17 minutes remaining. It was at this time when Arizona began to deserving of the No. 5 ranking.

Arizona quickly found a whole new gear and went on a 23-4 run to push themselves ahead 55-38. The Wildcats dialed up the defensive pressure and forced Oregon State into bad shots. It was all started off of a defensive stop when Trier showed his strength on the fast break, drawing the foul on a physical play.

The rest of the team began to feed off of Trier’s great finish. Lauri Markannen, after going 0-5 in the first half, finally got on the board with a three-pointer, and finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Dusan Ristic, who finished with 10 points, used his size and footwork to get a nice turn-around hook inside the paint.

By the under an eight-minute timeout, Arizona outscored the Beavers 27-7 in the second half. To top things off, Parker Jackson-Cartwright (nine points, 2-3 from three) had an absolutely timed steal leading to a highlight reel alley-oop to Kobi Simmons to continue the second half dominance.

As the game went on, Arizona became too much for the Beavers. The physicality and tenacity of the Wildcats, on both ends of the floor, overpowered Oregon State. Dusan found his touch around the hoop, Rawle Alkins was making the Beavers work on both ends, and Lauri finally got back to what makes him one of the best players in the nation.

The lead for Arizona got as high as 19 points late in the second half. Oregon State started to make a little run of their own, but by that time the game was out of hand. Arizona put together a powerful second half to flip a 180 from the ugly first.

“We were certainly a better team than the first half. That’s life right now, February, on the road, in a conference like the Pac-12, it’s not always going to be perfect. We did a good job putting a sub-par first half behind us and being a much better team in the second half.” – Sean Miller

The Oregon trip is not over. Arizona travels to Eugene on Saturday to take on the Ducks, who beat ASU 71-70 Thursday night. It is a top-13 match-up for the top two teams in the Pac-12. The team knows the hype for the game Saturday and understand they have to bring it.

“We know how good Oregon is,” Trier said after the game. “It’s going to be a hard-fought game, and we’re excited for the challenge.” Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m. MT on ESPN. BEAR DOWN ARIZONA! Let’s get Oregon back for snagging a bunch of our Football commits.

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