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Ayton drops in another double-double for Arizona

Bahamian post player also featured on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays
UMBC guard Jairus Lyles (10) drives between Arizona players DeAndre Ayton, Keanu Pinder (25), and Parker Jackson-Cartwright (0) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, on Sunday in Tucson, Ariz. Bahamian Ayton and the Arizona Wildcats won easily over the UMBC Retrievers, 103-78, for their second straight blowout win to open the NCAA men’s basketball season. AP

After a 19-point 12-rebound performance for DeAndre Ayton in his debut in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball action on Friday night, one wondered what he would do for an encore.

The Bahamian behemoth followed up that impressive debut with another double-double on Sunday evening for nationally number three ranked Arizona. This time, Ayton finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Arizona Wildcats pummel the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers, 103-78. It was their second straight blowout win to open the season.

Arizona junior guard Allonzo Trier, an Associated Press preseason All-America first teamer, led the Wildcats for the second game in a row. He had a game-high 30 points and four rebounds after striking for 32 points, five rebounds and four assists in their opening win over Northern Arizona.

As for the Bahamian in the middle, 7’1” freshman Ayton, he was special again, awing the crowd with a few crowd-pleasing dunks, one of which was the number five play of the day on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays. Ayton brought the crowd to its feet with a two-handed alley-oop dunk over UMBC’s Max Portmann, impressive enough to make the ESPN highlight reel.

In the opener, a game which Arizona played without four players either due to discipline or injury, and two assistant coaches – one due to federal charges and the other on a suspension – Ayton was instrumental. The Wildcats led by as many as 21 points in the first half, the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks cut it to 10 in the opening minute of the second half, and Arizona responded by blowing the game open.

Ayton became the fourth freshman in school history to record a double-double in his NCAA debut. His 19 points were the seventh-most by an Arizona freshman in his first NCAA game and his 12 rebounds were the third-most. Also, Ayton’s three blocks were one fewer than the Arizona freshman debut record of four by Orlando Magic star Aaron Gordon versus California Polytechnic State University four years ago.

Against UMBC, Ayton and the Wildcats were deadly from distance, connecting on 15 of their 28 three point shots. A three pointer from Trier, and then back-to-back treys from freshman Alex Barcello gave them an insurmountable 92-68 lead. They were never threatened the rest of the way.

Arizona will play its third straight home game this Thursday when they take California State University, Bakersfield at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona. That game is slated for an 8 p.m. start. The following week they will come to The Bahamas for the 7th Annual Battle 4 Atlantis Classic.
In addition to his eye-popping points and rebounds tally in his first two games, Ayton has five blocks and is shooting 62.5 percent from the floor (15-for-24). He is also shooting 72.7 percent from the charity stripe (8-for-11), and is averaging 31 and a half minutes per game.

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