TUCSON, Ariz. — Allonzo Trier lost a defender with a wicked crossover and scored at the rim in the first half. He did it again in the second, this time hanging in the air before finishing off another three-point play.
Arizona’s talented freshman has a short memory — and a lot of game.
Trier scored 22 points and made all 14 of his free throws to bounce back from a shaky-shooting debut, helping the 12th-ranked Wildcats pull away for a 90-60 win over Bradley on Monday night.
“He’s was very physical, would just lower that shoulder and get to the rim,” Bradley coach Brian Wardle said. “He was very aggressive and obviously a very talented player. He’s going to be very good.”
Trier had a forgettable first game at Arizona, going 1 of 10 against Pacific. The gifted freshman was on target against Bradley, confidently attacking the Braves to take advantage of a tightly called game. He made four of five shots from the floor and grabbed five rebounds.
“It definitely felt good to bounce back from my first game,” Trier said. “My teammates were just keeping me positive.”
The Wildcats (2-0) needed a lift after laboring through the first half against the scrappy Braves. Arizona wore them down in the second half, pulling away to extend its home winning streak to a nation-best 40 games, including 26 straight in non-conference action.
Ryan Anderson added 15 points for the Wildcats, who shot 54 percent and made 35 of 52 free throws.
“They came out strong and when you have a 40-game home win streak, every opponent that comes in here is really going to be playing their hardest,” said Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski, who had 11 points. “A lot of it came from us. We’ve got to be able to defend the ball.'”
Bradley (1-1), college basketball’s youngest team, held its own at one of the most difficult road venues in the country before fading in the second half.
Ronnie Suggs had 17 points to lead the Braves, who let the game get away from them early in the second half and shot 2 for 14 from 3-point range.
“We just had a lot mental breakdowns, not enough talk, just little things in the final 15 minutes that really opened it up,” Wardle said. “You just can’t do that against Arizona. You’ve got to sustain it.”
Arizona rolled over Pacific 79-61 in its opener Friday night, though it could have been much more.
Wanting to get his young players early-season experience, coach Sean Miller put them all in the game at the same time late. When the Tigers made a run, Miller put the starters back in with about 90 seconds left, vowing never to use the same lineup again.
The Wildcats didn’t have nearly the same flow against Bradley, no matter who was out there.
Arizona struggled from the perimeter — 1 for 9 from 3-point range — and never seemed to get into much of a rhythm in a foul-filled first half that featured 38 combined free throws, allowing the young Braves to hang around.
Bradley, which has 10 freshmen, had some success against Arizona’s defense, particularly Suggs, who had 13 points in the first half to keep the Braves within six.
Trier was one of the lone bright spots for the Wildcats offensively. The freshman had 11 points by halftime, including a three-point play after a lose-the-defender crossover.
Arizona began to wear down the Braves with its size and athleticism in the second half, going up 55-42 after Trier lost another defender on a crossover and hung in the air for a three-point play. Gabe York later hit consecutive 3-pointers, pushing the Wildcats’ lead to 20.
Bradley missed all 11 of its 3-point attempts in the second half.
“Arizona is good. They’re well-coached and they have a lot of pieces,” Wardle said.
Arizona has been one of the nation’s best rebounding teams the past few seasons, but the Braves were right there with them in the first half. Blocking out the bigger Wildcats aggressively, Bradley had just three fewer rebounds in the first half. Once the second half started, Arizona’s bigger players got to the rebounds more, finishing the game with a 43-27 advantage.
Bradley: The Braves have lost 16 straight against Top 25 opponents.
Arizona: G Elliott Pitts returned after missing the opener with a sprained knee. He had three points on 1-of-6 shooting. … Jerryd Bayless holds the school record for most free throws in a game without a miss with 16 in 2008 against Stanford.
Arizona hosts Boise State on Thursday.
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- Brandon Dawkins remains Arizona football’s starting QB against UTEP
- Wallowing in the wake of Arizona’s lost football weekend
- Arizona changes quarterbacks twice, falls to Houston at home
- Arizona will construct Lute Olson statue outside McKale Center