By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
“THE PROMISE” delivered, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his Arizona Wildcats from being the second ranked team to fall on day one of the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis, presented by Bad Boy Mowers.
DeAndre Ayton finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds - both game highs - but the No.2 ranked Wildcats lost to the unranked North Carolina State Wolfpack 90-84 at the Imperial Arena last night.
The freshman forward shot 7-12 from the field, 12-17 from the free throw line and made one of his four field goal attempts. He led four Wildcats in double figures. Allonzo Trier also finished with 27 points while Dusan Ristic and Parker Jackson-Cartwright each finished with 11.
Allerik Freeman led the Wolfpack with 24 points, Braxton Beverly scored 20 and Omer Yurtseven finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Ayton scored 16 in the first half controlled by NC State and both teams were tied at 40 headed into intermission.
Trier scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half, and his layup with 5:43 remaining gave Arizona just its second lead of the game at 73-71.
Beverly was key down the stretch for the Wolfpack with 7-9 shooting from the free throw line down the stretch. His three pointer with 4:19 left also sparked a 13-1 run to push the lead to as much as 11 in the closing moments.
Arizona will play again tonight at 7:30pm when they face the loser of last night’s Northern Iowa and SMU matchup.
Led by Ayton’s big night, Arizona outscored NC State 44-36 in the paint and 16-6 in second chance points. As good as they were in the interior they were equally as bad on the perimeter and shot just 11 per cent (2-17) from beyond the arch. The Wolfpack shot 8-20 from three.
It was the first loss of the season for Arizona (3-1) while the Wolfpack remain undefeated at 5-0.
Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts is in his first year and secured the first signature win for his programme. Keatts installed an up-tempo style using a pressure defence. His team kept coming up with answers every time Arizona made a run to push back in control and, remarkably, never trailed by more than two points all game.
“What a great team Arizona is. Give those guys credit. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of staying the course and sticking to the scouting report. We did a great job of staying with our presses and moving the ball around. We got some contributions from sone unlikely guys. This is one of those wins that you want to build on for the programme,” Keatts said. “I thought we matched their intensity, got out in transition and we did a great job forcing the tempo. I felt like everyday these guys are giving effort playing hard and they deserved to win.”