The Northern Arizona University golf team wrapped up action from day one of the Rio Verde Invitational on Friday, turning in a team score of 18-over-par 306 to head into round two today in fourth place and six strokes off second-place Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan.

The last time: Allonzo Trier returned from his 19-game suspension and Arizona limited UCLA to just 2-of-14 3-point shooting in the first half to take an 11-point halftime lead, then hung on to that margin in the second half of a 96-85 win at Pauley Pavilion. The Wildcats had six players score in double figures, led by freshman Kobi Simmons, who had 20 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Trier had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists in his first game back after the NCAA held him out because of a positive PED test. 

Since losing to Arizona and USC in successive games last month, the Bruins have pulled off six straight wins, including an 82-79 win over Oregon at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 9 that put the Wildcats alone in first place in the Pac-12. They’ve done it in part by playing better defense overall, mixing in a 3-2 zone defense with their man-to-man, becoming the third-best field-goal percentage defensive team in Pac-12 games (allowing just 42.9 percent) and the sixth most efficient defense overall (105.0 points allowed per 100 possessions). Reserve center Ike Anigbogu has been playing better on both sides of the floor, a 6-10 and 250-pound rim-protecting presence who also scored a season-high 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting at ASU on Thursday. Guard Aaron Holiday continues to be a disruptive defensive presence off the bench, while starting point guard Lonzo Ball leads the Pac-12 in steals (2.1) and assists (7.0) in conference play. 

You couldn’t pin UCLA’s loss to Arizona last month on the remarkable Bruin freshman guard: He had 24 points and eight assists to just one turnover in 37 minutes. Simply put, he's the motor for the nation’s most efficient offense. 

Markkanen outplayed former UA commit T.J. Leaf last month, but the Finnish freshman has struggled from the perimeter lately while Leaf is averaging 19.5 points in his last six games – including 25 on 11-for-16 shooting at ASU on Thursday. 

“They’re the No. 1 offensive team in the country (92.1 points per game) and (third) in 3-point percentage (41.7). They’re so explosive at all five positions, and you can only hope to slow them down. On any given night, anybody on their team can beat you. To me they’re the most explosive offensive team we’ve played. (Defensively) they’ll mix it up, probably play a lot more zone against us. Their staff has done a great job of getting their guys to play better defensively. They’re holding teams to a lower percentage and coming together at the right time.” — UA associate head coach Joe Pasternack, who scouted the Bruins.  

Saying UA coach Sean Miller has done “one of the best coaching jobs of anyone” considering the Wildcats’ various absences and only three losses to quality teams, ESPN's Jay Bilas said he’s deserving of being the coach of the year.

Lute Olson wasn’t yet the Arizona coach when Bilas was a high school recruit in Southern California in the early 1980s. But if he was, Bilas might have been tempted to play in Tucson rather than heading across country for Duke.

While it’s hardly unusual for the parent of a student-athlete to think highly of their child's skills, the father of Lonzo Ball took it to another level last weekend.

6: Previous Top 5 matchups in Pac-12 history before Saturday’s UA-UCLA game, with the last in 2008 (No. 4 WSU vs No. 5 UCLA) and the last involving UA in 2004 (No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 5 Arizona.) 

53.3: UCLA’s overall field-goal percentage, a mark higher than any Division I team has finished the season with since Duke shot 53.6 percent while winning the 1992 NCAA title. 

Not surprisingly, secondary market ticket prices for Saturday’s UA-UCLA game are the highest seen in recent years.

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