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Arizona knocks off Michigan State with final seconds basket (1:23)

Kadeem Allen’s layup in the final seconds gets the win for Arizona over Michigan State in the Armed Forces Classic. (1:23)

If the first game of Arizona’s 2016-17 season is any indication, don’t count the Wildcats out of the Pac-12 title hunt — or the Final Four, or anything else, really — just yet.

After a turbulent preseason, amid ongoing roster chaos, and after a horrendous first six minutes, when No. 12 Michigan State, led by stud freshman Miles Bridges, opened up a 17-2 lead, the 10th-ranked Wildcats survived it all, snatching a 65-63, ugly-but-hey-who-cares victory Friday in Honolulu.

For most of the game, it appeared Bridges would be the story of the night. In his college debut, the No. 8-ranked player in the class of 2016 had 21 points and seven rebounds; he also contributed at least four ridiculous dunks (plus one George Gervin-esque reverse finish), each seemingly more difficult than the last. Late in the game, as Michigan State tried to put Arizona away, Tom Izzo put Bridges in isolation, a remarkable sign of the trust the Spartans’ wizened coach already puts in his talented young star.

It was also a sign of necessity. After that 17-2 start, when Arizona coach Sean Miller made a few sharp adjustments of his own, Michigan State spent most of the rest of the night struggling to find clean looks. There were turnovers and stalled sets galore, on both ends. For every sweet stretch-5 finish from Finnish freshman Lauri Markkanen, for every tricky hesitation flit or step-back jumper by McDonald’s All American Kobi Simmons, there was an off-ball offensive foul or an unforced giveaway or a stagnant, stuck offensive sequence.

It was clear, in other words, how much Arizona misses Allonzo Trier. The sophomore guard was seen by many as a major breakout candidate after a strong freshman season, but his eligibility, for reasons Arizona has yet to disclose, remains in doubt. Even with Simmons’ fine work off the bench, Trier’s all-court scoring presence was desperately needed; the Wildcats’ potential, if and when he returns, is plain.

If that uncertainty wasn’t bad enough, Arizona also entered the season not even a week removed from a teammate’s retirement. Redshirt freshman guard Ray Smith, a top-30 player in the class of 2015, suffered his third ACL tear in 30 months during a preseason exhibition game, causing the 19-year-old to end his career far too prematurely.

“In the 25 years I have been a college basketball coach, I have never felt as helpless as I did when I saw him go down on Tuesday night,” Miller said in a statement.

It was a rough preseason, to say the least. And while Friday night’s opener was far from pretty, it was nonetheless a success — enough to weather Bridges’ immediate brilliance and Spartans guard Tum Tum Nairn‘s lucky game-tying bounce late, enough for Wildcats guard Kadeem Allen‘s last-second sprint to the glass to secure the two-point victory, enough to get a win, despite it all.