AP – Gabe York had 18 points and Dusan Ristic nearly posted a double-double as poor-shooting No. 12 Arizona beat Northwestern (La.) State 61-42 in a relatively uninspired effort at McKale Center.
Ristic had nine points and 10 rebounds for UA, which shot less than 40 percent from the field against the Demons of the Southland Conference.
The win moved Arizona to 4-0 for the fifth straight season and extended its nation-leading winning streak at home to 42 games. The Wildcats won’t return home until they face Fresno State on Dec. 9, playing this week in the Wooden Legacy event in Orange County, Calif., and on Dec. 5 at Gonzaga.
Northwestern State dropped to 0-4, having played three games without star guard Jalan West, who was lost for the season on Nov. 13 at Ole Miss with a torn ACL.
While Northwestern State was without West, the Wildcats were playing without forward Ryan Anderson, who suffered an ankle sprain on Thursday against Boise State. Anderson is expected to be able to play in the Wooden Legacy event over Thanksgiving weekend.
UA coach Sean Miller started freshman Allonzo Trier in Anderson’s place, putting Trier in at small forward and moving Mark Tollefsen to power forward.
The game will likely wind up hurting Arizona’s RPI, since Northwestern State had a Sagarin power rating of just 229 entering Sunday’s game. (Team RPIs aren’t yet relevant.)
The Demons, which led the nation in scoring last season (84.0 points), ran a more deliberate pace in against the Wildcats and never trailed by more than 19 points until the final four minutes. UA went ahead by 20 points with 3:54 left, after which Miller played reserves Justin Simon and Chance Comanche.
Leading 34-21 at halftime, the Wildcats failed to put away the Demons any further through the first 12 minutes of the second half. Northwestern State outrebounded them 10-6 over those 12 minutes, when UA shot just 37.5 percent from the field and made only 1 of 8 three-pointers.
In the first half, Ristic had eight points and seven rebounds off the bench to lead Arizona to its 34-21 halftime lead.
The Wildcats made only 41.9 percent of their field goals, were 2 of 8 from the 3-point line and made just 6 of 14 free throws in the first half.
York added eight points for Arizona while Zeek Woodley had 10 points in the half to lead the Demons.
Despite shooting less than 40 percent through the first 17 minutes, Arizona had a 29-17 lead with 2:58 left by outrebounding the Demons 21-13. The Wildcats also kept Northwestern State without a 3-pointer in four tries until Bailey Walker hit one with 3:52 left to cut UA’s lead to 27-17.
After Arizona jumped out to a quick 8-2 early lead, the game was scoreless while Northwestern State struggled from the field and the Wildcats couldn’t hit free throws. UA was 1 of 8 from the line until Ristic shot a pair of free throws to give UA a 10-4 lead with 12:15 left.