Arizona coach Sean Miller is hoping that Allonzo Trier can follow in the footsteps of some of his other former stars and experience a breakthrough after his latest performance.
The freshman will try for another high-scoring game when the 13th-ranked Wildcats continue their homestand Sunday against Missouri.
Trier had 27 points on 8-of-11 shooting and six rebounds in an 85-72 win over Fresno State on Wednesday. The swingman, who matched his scoring output from his prior two games, looks like he’s building toward becoming a more consistent performer since tallying five points in back-to-back contests last month in a California tournament.
Miller is now banking on his highly touted recruit turning into a reliable threat like Derrick Williams, Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson before him.
“Eventually, you come to it with all these guys,” Miller said. “As you learn who they are, a trust starts to develop. And once we see they are really working hard to do what we ask of them, it’s just a matter of time.”
Trier will get a familiar place to keep honing his game with Arizona (8-1) getting four more chances to play in Tucson before its Pac-12 opener Jan. 3 at Arizona State.
“I felt like coach had a lot of confidence in me,” Trier said. “Anytime somebody tells you that you can go out there and be yourself, do what you do best, it feels good. It allows you to be comfortable.”
Arizona will try to extend its NCAA-best home win streak to 44 games when it faces a program that’s dropped 16 straight on the road dating back to February 2014. Missouri is 0-3 away from home with two neutral-site losses to Kansas State and Northwestern State last month.
The Tigers (5-3) have won three straight since then after beating Nebraska-Omaha 85-78 on Wednesday. Freshman forward Kevin Puryear, averaging a team-best 14.1 points on 54.7 percent shooting, had 18 against the Mavericks and grabbed a season-high eight rebounds.
Missouri’s other top scorer is also a freshman, point guard Terrence Phillips (10.0 ppg). He had 14 points Wednesday and a combined 27 in the past two games.
“We’re feeling good. We’re playing with confidence after losing three straight,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to continue this confidence, continue playing together and playing hard as we go to Arizona.”
The Wildcats didn’t have their leading scorer, Ryan Anderson, for last season’s matchup against the Tigers in the Maui Invitational because he was sitting out following a transfer from Boston College.
The No. 3-ranked team won 72-53 while holding Missouri to 36.4 percent shooting and a 3-of-13 performance from 3-point range. Arizona was en route to a 34-win campaign – one shy of matching its school mark – and a second straight regional finals appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers, meanwhile, were on their way to a nine-win season under first-year coach Kim Anderson, their worst since going 3-23 in 1966-67. The schools split their previous two meetings with Arizona winning in the 1994 NCAA regional finals.
Missouri has lost its last eight games against Top 25 teams by an average of 19.5 points, with five of those matchups coming last season. The Tigers have also dropped 14 of their last 15 road contests versus ranked teams.