Chance Comanche leads Arizona off the bench in win against New Mexico
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — No. 18 Arizona passed its final nonconference test with flying colors.
Chance Comanche scored a career-high 14 points and the Wildcats had five players reach double figures in a 77-46 rout of New Mexico on Tuesday night.
Freshman Rawle Alkins scored 13 points and grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds as Arizona dominated the boards 49-30. Lauri Markkanen also scored 13 points for the Wildcats (11-2) in their final tuneup before beginning Pac-12 play next week.
Kadeem Allen and Kobi Simmons added 11 points apiece.
“Tonight you saw us at times maybe at our best,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
Elijah Brown scored 17 points and Tim Williams added 14 for the Lobos (7-5).
“I thought we were prepared. I thought we were ready,” New Mexico coach Craig Neal said, “but we looked a little shell-shocked.”
Miller had been on Comanche’s case recently, including a public chewing out on national television when Arizona met Texas A&M in Houston last weekend.
But Miller was full of praise for the 6-foot-11 sophomore on Tuesday night.
“That was the best game that he’s played this season, maybe in two seasons,” Miller said. “… He needed some confidence and I think he’s filled with it here right now.”
Comanche was 6 for 6 from the field, most of them dunks.
“I just had to stop fighting myself and just clear my head and just play basketball,” he said. “Play like I do in practice, the coach always said.”
Comanche said the balanced scoring “shows the guys really step up, that we have three freshmen and a transfer and they can all step up and defend and play together as a team.’
The Wildcats jumped to a 12-0 lead on Kadeem Allen’s 3-pointer and New Mexico never cut the lead to single digits again.
“One thing that was clear tonight,” Miller said. “We were ready to play, and that was Game 13 in a short period of time with some younger players.”
Arizona’s biggest lead of the half was 37-14 on Alkins’ breakaway dunk with 1:43 to play. The Wildcats led by as many as 32 points in the second half.
New Mexico: The Lobos had better shoot better than this on the road if they want to figure in the Mountain West race. They are 1-5 away from Albuquerque.
Arizona: The Wildcats played tough defense in their final nonconference tuneup, dispatching the Lobos with ease. The seven-man rotation will be tough in Pac-12 play, but the team hopes to get guard Allonzo Trier and injured point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright back in the near future.
Brown, Jordan Hunter and Obij Aget started the first 10 games for the Lobos but were on the bench to open the contest for the second straight game.
The teams played for the 126th time but first since 1999. The series began almost exactly 100 years ago to the day. The teams played often as co-members of the Border and Western Athletic Conference but the series ended when then-Arizona coach Lute Olson was livid over officiating when the games were played in Albuquerque.
Trier, a member of the Pac-12 all-freshman team last season, is still hanging out with his team but doesn’t suit up.
He was in sweats on the bench during the game. He is allowed to practice and travel with the team.
Trier’s issue is some sort of eligibility problem but the school has been mum on the details.
Miller doesn’t talk publicly about Trier but did say the team was hoping for “some good news” that would expand their roster going into Pac-12 play.
Arizona: The Wildcats take the holidays off, then open Pac-12 play Dec. 30 at California.