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azcentral sports' jay dieffenbach and dan bickley turn their attention from the super bowl to the final four, which will be held in glendale.

ncaa basketball: arizona at oregon

feb 4, 2017: oregon ducks forward chris boucher (25) reaches to block arizona wildcats forward lauri markkanen (10) in the first half at matthew knight arena.(p o: scott olmos/usa today sports)

tucson – in theory, arizona was gift-w ped a powerful 1-2 offensive punch on jan. 21 when allonzo trier was reinstated after a 19-game suspension.

suddenly, the wildcats had their top returning scorer eligible to shoot 3s or drive inside to score, pick up fouls and dish out to teammates – while playing alongside remarkably efficient 7-foot freshman lauri markkanen, who nails 3-pointers way over everybody’s heads and can score inside, too.

but, except for ua’s all-cylinders-firing win over ucla on the day trier returned, it hasn’t quite worked out that way so far.

especially last weekend. markkanen attempted only 11 total s s over two games in oregon last weekend and made only two of them. he’s averaging 7.4 s s per conference game since trier returned, down from 10.8 s s in pac-12 games before jan. 21.

but ua coach sean miller doesn’t blame markkanen for any of that. nor does he blame trier, who has taken 10.2 s s and averaged 14.2 points in his five games back.

related: wildcats lose ground in top 25 polls

“no,” miller said. “the addition of allonzo will only help lauri because it will take pressure off. (opposing teams) will have to worry about another scorer, somebody who can drive the ball, get to the foul line, another 3-point shooter.

“there’s more balance and because of that, it doesn't allow the defense just to focus their attention on just him. we have some good players – don’t get me wrong – but from a scoring perspective, allonzo is probably that second-best scorer. so anytime you can add another player out there who’s ver ile and who can score and have a big night, that only helps lauri.”

so what else is going on, then? why are markkanen's numbers shrinking?

while markkanen hasn’t been made available for interviews in the past week, miller said the finnish freshman can do more inside to complement his perimeter shooting.

“especially against zones, (it’s about) being able to use his size more around the basket,” miller said. “(there) he can get more second s s, more two-point s s where he’s not just relying on a catch-and-shoot 3-point s because he’s way more ver ile than just that. …

“no matter how great a scorer you are, if you’re only relying on perimeter jump s s, there’s going to be those games where they can take that away from you.”

more: ua crushed by oregon in worst loss since 2009

like urday. that’s when oregon coach dana altman’s game plan e into effect.

“he was a key defensively for us,” altman said tuesday, on a pac-12 teleconference call. “we knew he had a number of big games shooting 50 percent from 3 and we didn’t want him to get going from there. he’s a phenomenal player because he’s so big and he’s tough to get to.

“we just didn’t want to let him catch and get into shooting rhythm. once he gets it up, it’s probably too late. you’ve just got to disrupt him much as you can.”

guard parker jackson-cartwright noticed. markkanen was 1 for 5 against the ducks after going just 1 for 6 at oregon state two days earlier.

“teams are trying to take him away, and we understand that,” jackson-cartwright said. “they’re playing him really closely. squeezing him on ball screens. on pick-and-pops, they’re just really staying with him.”

allonzo trier's return was supposed to give the wildcats

allonzo trier's return was supposed to give the wildcats a 1-2 scoring punch, but lauri markkanen's production has shrunk instead.

 (p o: casey sapio/usa today sports)

not only did the ducks guard markkanen when he tried to get open outside, but even if markkanen tried to beat dillon brooks or one of oregon’s perimeter players and drive inside, the ducks always had one of their veteran s blockers – jordan bell or chris boucher – around to make him think twice about approaching the rim.

on wednesday against stanford, markkanen might have a slightly different challenge. the cardinal leads the pac-12 in turnovers given up by opponents, and markkanen had three of ua’s 19 turnovers on jan. 1 at maples pavilion.

jackson-cartwright said film review will help improve the situation, finding other ways to get markkanen the ball in different areas, while miller said it’s also up to the coaching staff.

“being able to get him the ball requires teamwork and requires guards being able to get it to him,” miller said. “strategically, as coaches, we have to be able to put him in a better position to get him the ball in and around the basket, more, especially against zones. that’s something we learned this week.”

finally, a little defense might help markkanen’s offense, too. ua didn’t have much of that, either, last weekend, allowing oregon to shoot 65.2 percent overall urday and osu to shoot 50 percent in the first half on thursday.

azcentral sports' free ua xtra app for iphone and android

the wildcats were outscored 10-4 in fast-break opportunities at osu and 14-4 at oregon, meaning markkanen and the other ua shooters often had to shoot against a completely set-up defense.

“when a team’s constantly making the s , it’s not as easy to push the ball and get transition opportunities,” miller said. “all great shooters benefit from a faster pace, and we weren’t able to generate a lot of transition in either game, especially against oregon.”

the good news for arizona is, while all this reconstruction is going on, they probably don’t have to repair any psychic damage.

miller said markkanen’s even-keeled nature “is his gift,” while jackson-cartwright said markkanen is also unselfish and hard-working.

“after we got back (from oregon), he went in the gym and got a bunch of s s up,” jackson-cartwright said. “he’s not discouraged or anything, and we have the ultimate confidence in him that he’s going to bounce back quickly and he’s going to be the guy we know he is. so we’re not too worried about him.”

ua (21-3, 10-1) vs. stanford (12-11, 4-7)

when: 9 p.m.

where: mckale center, tucson.

tv/radio: fs1/kgme-am 910.

oregon's payton pritchard, left, tries for a p play

oregon's payton pritchard, left, tries for a p play from the floor under pressure from arizona's allonzo trier, center, and chance comanche, right, during the second half of an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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arizona's rawle alkins, left, defends with teammate

arizona's rawle alkins, left, defends with teammate kadeem allen, right, as oregon's tyler dorsey (5) drives to the basket during the first half of an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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with oregon's dylan ennis (31) looking on, arizona

with oregon's dylan ennis (31) looking on, arizona head coach sean miller, right, questions a call during the second half of an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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oregon head coach dana altman yells to his team during

oregon head coach dana altman yells to his team during the second half an ncaa college basketball game against arizona urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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arizona's allonzo trier (35) goes up for two points

arizona's allonzo trier (35) goes up for two points against oregon's chris boucher (25) during the second half of an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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oregon's payton pritchard, left, dylan ennis and dillon

oregon's payton pritchard, left, dylan ennis and dillon brooks celebrate after oregon defeated arizona 85-58 in an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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oregon ducks forward chris boucher (25) reaches to

oregon ducks forward chris boucher (25) reaches to block arizona wildcats forward lauri markkanen (10) in the first half at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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arizona wildcats guard rawle alkins (1) shoots the

arizona wildcats guard rawle alkins (1) shoots the ball in the first half against the oregon ducks at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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oregon ducks guard dylan ennis (31) defends arizona

oregon ducks guard dylan ennis (31) defends arizona wildcats guard parker jackson-cartwright (0) in the first half at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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arizona wildcats center chance comanche (21) dunks

arizona wildcats center chance comanche (21) dunks the ball in the first half against the oregon ducks at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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arizona wildcats head coach sean miller watches from

arizona wildcats head coach sean miller watches from the sideline in the first half against the oregon ducks at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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arizona wildcats guard kadeem allen (5) and arizona

arizona wildcats guard kadeem allen (5) and arizona wildcats head coach sean miller talk during the game against the oregon ducks at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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oregon ducks forward chris boucher (25) reaches to

oregon ducks forward chris boucher (25) reaches to block arizona wildcats guard allonzo trier (35) in the first half at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
fullscreen
oregon ducks forward chris boucher (25) defends as

oregon ducks forward chris boucher (25) defends as arizona wildcats guard parker jackson-cartwright (0) shoots the ball in the first half at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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oregon ducks guard dylan ennis (31) and oregon ducks

oregon ducks guard dylan ennis (31) and oregon ducks forward jordan bell (1) defend as arizona wildcats center dusan ristic (14) shoots the ball in the first half at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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oregon ducks guard payton pritchard (3) and oregon

oregon ducks guard payton pritchard (3) and oregon ducks guard tyler dorsey (5) defend as arizona wildcats guard allonzo trier (35) attempts a s in the first half at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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arizona's kobi simmons, top left, looks for teammate

arizona's kobi simmons, top left, looks for teammate dusan ristic (14) under pressure from oregon's casey benson (2) and chris boucher (25) during the first half of an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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powder floats over the oregon student section after

powder floats over the oregon student section after fans threw a substance in to air following oregon's first score against arizona during an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. the incident delayed the game and led the refs to issue a warning to oregon. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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oregon's tyler dorsey, left, shoot a 3-point s over

oregon's tyler dorsey, left, shoot a 3-point s over arizona's parker jackson-cartwright during the first half of an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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oregon ducks guard payton pritchard (3) and oregon

oregon ducks guard payton pritchard (3) and oregon ducks forward jordan bell (1) celebrate in the first half against the arizona wildcats at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
fullscreen
arizona wildcats guard kadeem allen (5) defends as

arizona wildcats guard kadeem allen (5) defends as oregon ducks guard dylan ennis (31) shoots the ball in the first half at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
fullscreen
oregon's dylan ennis (31) and tyler dorsey (5) celebrate

oregon's dylan ennis (31) and tyler dorsey (5) celebrate after the ducks take the lead early over arizona during the first half an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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arizona wildcats guard kadeem allen (5) dribbles the

arizona wildcats guard kadeem allen (5) dribbles the ball in the first half against the oregon ducks at matthew knight arena, feb. 4, 2017. 

scott olmos-usa today sports
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oregon's jordan bell helps clean up after duck fans

oregon's jordan bell helps clean up after duck fans threw powder on the floor after the first score against arizona in an ncaa college basketball game urday, feb. 4, 2017, in eugene, ore. the incident lead to a delay of the game and a warning from officials. 

chris pietsch, ap p o
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