No. 13 Arizona outlasts UNLV for 82-70 victory
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona's balance makes it a difficult team to defend. Stop one aspect of the Wildcats' offense, they can turn to another, just-as-effective player to lead them in scoring.
With UNLV center Stephen Zimmerman limited due to an injury, it was Dusan Ristic's turn to take over.
Ristic scored 16 of his career-high 20 points in the first half, and No. 13 Arizona took advantage of Zimmerman's absence in the middle on its way to an 82-70 victory over the Rebels on Saturday night.
''Everybody's contributing and I think that's something that's really hard to scout against,'' said Arizona's Ryan Anderson, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds. ''You can't scout just one player.''
Arizona (11-1) played superbly on offense all night with the 7-foot Zimmerman limited to nine minutes, shooting 52 percent and building a 12-point second-half lead behind its defense.
UNLV (8-4) did make a late push, pulling within four with just over 2 minutes left, but Gabe York and Allonzo Trier each scored in transition to put Arizona back in control.
Trier and Kadeem Allen had 15 points each, and York added 11 to help the Wildcats extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 46 games.
Ristic set the tone early, scoring quickly with Zimmerman on the bench and continuing to hit shots once UNLV's freshman center briefly entered the game. Ristic had been chided by coach Sean Miller a couple weeks ago for not being in the right position on offense, but was in the right spot at the right time against the Rebels, hitting 6 of 8 shots.
''I feel better,'' Ristic said. ''When I show some good things and improvements, that gave me confidence.''
UNLV had a hard time defending the Wildcats or keeping them off the glass with Zimmerman on the bench most of the night after aggravating a left thigh contusion in the first half.
Ike Nwamu had 17 points and Derrick Jones Jr. added 12 for the Rebels, who were outrebounded by 13 after being dominated on the glass by Arizona State on Wednesday.
''We have a good team,'' UNLV coach Dave Rice said. ''We had a week that was a challenge and we came up short, but no one is going to feel sorry for us.''
The Rebels were in need of a pick-me-up after blowing a 14-point lead in a loss to Arizona State at home that led to a long film session on Thursday with the coaches.
The session's focus was primarily on rebounds and offensive execution, after the Rebels were outrebounded 16-1 on the offensive glass and scored 19 points in the second half.
UNLV continued to have some of the same problems, particularly with Zimmerman out.
Ristic had his way inside early on - with or without Zimmerman in the middle - scoring 14 points in the opening 12 minutes. He had 16 in the half and Arizona made 15 of 29 shots, using a quick 7-0 spurt to lead 44-36 at halftime.
The Rebels tried to keep up, making 16 of 31 shots, but were limited without Zimmerman, who didn't start and scored six points before limping off midway through the half.
Zimmerman didn't return, but the Rebels turned up their defensive pressure early in the second half and went on an 11-3 run that cut the lead to 54-51.
Arizona later pushed the lead to 12, but UNLV had one more run, scoring nine straight points to close to 69-65 with about 2 1/2 minutes left.
York followed with a three-point play and Allen scored in transition to put Arizona in control.
''I was proud of our fight, our effort, but we've got to do better,'' Rice said.
Arizona had a decided advantage in free throws, making 29 of 39 from the line while UNLV took 14 total, making 10.
''It's hard to make up when you lose by 19 at the free-throw line, but we'll just have to be more aggressive the next time,'' said Rice, who was called for a technical foul in the first half.
UNLV: Leading scorer Patrick McCaw was held to eight points on 3-of-14 shooting, missing all five of his 3-point attempts.
Arizona: Trier and Miller were honored before the game for their work with USA Basketball. ... Junior guard Elliott Pitts missed his fourth straight game due to a personal issue.
UNLV hosts South Dakota on Tuesday.
Arizona hosts Long Beach State on Tuesday.