TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Coach Sean Miller’s rebuilt Arizona Wildcats are 12-1 and ranked eighth in the country heading into the holiday break.
Not bad, Miller said, for a team that lost imposing center Kaleb Tarczewski to injury a month ago.
Freshman Allonzo Trier scored 20 points to lead six Arizona players in double figures and the Wildcats beat Long Beach State 85-70 on Tuesday night in their final warmup before the Pac-12 season.
“When you lose the group we lost last year,” Miller said, “you’re trying to establish some things in November and December - team chemistry, roles.”
The Wildcats, winners of seven straight, are off until they play at Arizona State on Jan. 3.
Nick Faust scored 17 points for Long Beach State (6-8). He fouled out with 1:20 to play.
Arizona won its 47th consecutive home game, the longest active streak in the country.
The Wildcats won it at the free throw line. They made 28 of 32 free throws to Long Beach State’s 9 of 15.
“It’s a statistic, Miller said, “that jumps out.
“The difference in the game was our ability to get the ball in position to get fouled and then convert them,” he said.
The Wildcats outrebounded Long Beach State 40-20.
Gabe York and Mark Tollefsen scored 12 points apiece for Arizona while Kadeem Allen, Ryan Anderson and Dusan Ristic each added 11.
Arizona also dominated the free throw line in its previous win over UNLV.
“Coach makes us shoot them before every game, shoot them during practice,” Tollefsen said. “I know a lot of guys put in a lot of time. I know I make sure I do my duties there every single day. That’s something we think is very important. We pride ourselves on that.”
Justin Bibbins and Roschon Prince had 13 points each for Long Beach State. The game was part of a rugged nonconference schedule for the 49ers, whose next game is at No. 13 Duke on Dec. 30.
“We love coming here and we appreciate them letting us come here because this is the ultimate test,” Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. “For us this is truly a preseason game and we are just trying to get better. To do that, it helps to be in this sort of environment facing a Top Ten team. I was proud of our guys because we didn’t break.”
Miller likes the improvement Trier has shown in the first two months of his college career.
“I thought tonight he played more within himself,” Miller said, “where as if this game was played three or four weeks ago, he’d have been kind of like a bull in a china shop, not recognizing maybe when to go and when not to.”
Miller called Trier “one of the hardest working players that I have ever coached.”
“As long as that doesn’t change,” Miller said, “what you see with him today is only going to increase.”
The Wildcats, who jumped five spots in this week’s rankings, led by as many as 12 points in the first half and 17 in the second before Long Beach State briefly cut it to nine.
Ristic scored the first six points of the second half to put Arizona up 50-34. The 49ers climbed back at 52-41, then Trier made consecutive 3s and the Wildcats led 58-41.
The 49ers scored six straight points to get it to single digits, 69-60, on Travis Hammonds’ free throw with 6:49 to play. Arizona responded with seven straight, capped by York’s 3-pointer, and the lead was 76-60 with 5:18 to play.
Long Beach State never got closer than 10 points after that.
Long Beach State: The 49ers are 0-6 all-time against Arizona, all the games played in Tucson. … Five teams on the Long Beach State schedule either are or have been in the AP Top 25.
Arizona: Miller said Tarczewski, out with a stress reaction in his left foot, will begin to practice on a limited basis when the players return from the break for a Sunday workout. … Trier’s three 3s matched his career best. … Arizona has not beaten a team currently ranked in the Top 25. … Anderson, a transfer from Boston College and Arizona’s leading scorer on the season, is from Long Beach. … Arizona plays its first three Pac-12 games on the road.
Long Beach State is at No. 15 Duke on Dec. 30.
Arizona is at Arizona State on Jan. 3.
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