Within the hostile confines of the McKale Center, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team (4-5) couldn’t find the scoring touch and was routed, 79-57 by No. 20 Arizona (7-2) Tuesday night.
The ‘Eaters were led by their starting guards in senior Jaron Martin and redshirt freshman Max Hazzard, garnering a collective 22 points, 12 and 10 respectively.
Sophomore guard Spencer Rivers came off the bench to register career-highs with eight points and four rebounds.
However, Arizona 7-footers Lauri Markkanen and Dusan Ristic registered 18 points a piece to pace the Wildcats past the ‘Eaters.
UCI’s first basket marked their sole lead of the game and came within the two-minute mark when a Hazzard lay-up gave UCI a 2-1 advantage.
From that point on, Arizona went on an offensive tear, shooting 52 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line to go on a 15-6 run that would allow the Wildcats to retake the lead and widen the gap at eight.
Martin kept the ‘Eaters alive for a stretch, posting 10 of his 12 points in the half, which included a timely triple that narrowed the deficit down to four to bring the score to 24-20.
Ristic, however, matched Martin’s aggression in the paint and took up 14 of his 18 points to give the Wildcats a 39-23 lead going into the half.
Picking up from where Ristic had left off, Markkenan found his touch, draining three triples on 3-5 shooting from beyond the arc to put Arizona up by 15, 42-27, with a little over 17 remaining in the game. Markkenan would go on to connect on a layup and jumper to lead all scorers in the second half with 15 points.
Hazzard caved in on the Wildcats’ run with a basket and a pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions for the ‘Eaters, but Arizona were not going to relinquish their double-digit advantage and answered right back with an 8-0 run.
Nearing the final two-minute mark, a dunk from freshman guard Rawle Alkins brought the Wildcats’ lead up to 30. In the final minute, the ‘Eaters scrapped up a couple of buckets before the game was sealed at 79-57.
The loss marks the end of a five game road trip as the ‘Eaters will return to the Bren Events Center Friday to face off against Pomona Pitzer before heading back out for another five game road trip to round out their non-conference play.
UCI will kick off Conference play back at the Bren on January 4th in a black and blue rivalry against Long Beach State for a 7:00pm tip off.