TUCSON, Ariz. — Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton are quickly forming a duo as dynamic as any in college basketball.
And the season’s just getting started.
Trier made eight of nine shots, including all three 3-point attempts, and scored 28 points as the No. 3 Wildcats coasted to their third straight victory, 91-59 over Cal State-Bakersfield on Thursday night.
“There’s not a guard in college basketball that’s playing better than him,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “If you look at his overall shooting percentage, he makes it look easy. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised when he misses free throws. It probably cost him another 30-point game.”
Ayton added 18 points, 16 in the second half, and grabbed 10 rebounds for the freshman’s third double-double to start his college career.
After shooting 1 for 5 in the first half, the 7-foot-1 Ayton was 5 for 6 in the second — including his first college 3-pointer.
“It felt good,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of those.”
Dusan Ristic scored 12 points and Parker Jackson-Cartwright had 11 for the Wildcats (3-0), who led by 18 in the first half and 38 in the second.
Jarkel Joiner scored 14 points, Moataz Aly 12 and Shon Briggs 11 for the Roadrunners (1-2).
Jackson-Cartwright capped a dominant first half for the Wildcats by throwing in a shot from a couple of steps behind the midcourt line at the halftime buzzer, giving them a 44-27 advantage.
The Roadrunners scored the first five points of the second half to cut the lead to 44-32 on Joiner’s layup but never got any closer. Freshman Emmanuel Akot’s 3-pointer punctuated a 10-2 run and the Wildcats led 65-41 with 12 minutes to play.
The rout grew larger with an 18-2 Arizona run. Trier’s 3-pointer capped the outburst and put the Wildcats up 87-51 with 5:04 to go.
Trier almost certainly would have been the first Arizona player to have three consecutive 30-point games since Jerryd Bayless in 2008 had he not been pulled with 4:37 left and his team up by 26. No Wildcats player has opened the season with three straight 30-point efforts.
Miller said he didn’t know all of that.
“If I would have known that, I would have kept him in,” Miller said, “and believe me he would have found a way to get two more points, I’m sure.”
Through three games, Trier is shooting 70 percent from the field and averaging 30 points per game. Miller credits Trier’s decision to stay in school to mature and hone his game.
“Great offensive players make the team look good,” Miller said, “and right now that’s how he’s playing.”
All things considered, Bakersfield coach Rod Barnes thought his team held up well.
“I thought our guys really battled those guys,” Barnes said. “We made some strides, and obviously against the No. 3 team in the country, they are extremely good. I don’t think we’ll see a front line as deep and talented as they are.”
Ayton will return to his native Bahamas next week for the Battle 4 Bahamas tournament and said he welcomes the attention. Miller said Arizona fans must know how special a freshman he is.
“I know there are a lot of people that are Arizona basketball fans that have seen great players over the years for decades,” Miller said. “But I don’t know if anyone who has walked in has been better on Day One.”
Cal State-Bakersfield: The Roadrunners lost a couple of key pieces from a team that went 25-10 last season, was co-champion of the WAC and made it to the NIT semifinals. They couldn’t stay with the Wildcats but should still have enough athleticism to be a factor again in the WAC.
Arizona: The Wildcats cruised through three early-season home games against lesser foes, but the first real test comes soon when they travel to the Battle 4 Atlantis and meet North Carolina State in the first round next Wednesday. If all goes as projected, Arizona would face No. 5 Villanova for the championship of the eight-team tournament.
Cal State-Bakersfield: Plays at Lamar on Sunday night.
Arizona: Faces North Carolina State in the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau next Wednesday night.