Arizona men’s basketball gets back on track with blowout win over Cal


Sophomore Christian Koloko plays defense on Cal’s Matt Bradley on Saturday, January 30, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona in McKale Center. (Courtesy of Mike Christy/Arizona Athletics)

Ryan Wohl

The Arizona Wildcats defeated the California Golden Bears by a score of 71-50 and this game was never close from the start.

Point guard James Akinjo was the star of the game as he finished with 20 points on 7-14 shooting from the field with 8 assists and zero turnovers. The Wildcats had three other players score in double digits (Azuolas Tubelis, Bennedict Mathurin and Jordan Brown), and also had three players with six or more rebounds in the contest.

“I thought this was [Akinjo’s] best game since he has been here with us at Arizona,” head coach Sean Miller said. “It was really great to see him respond and our team after that game against Stanford.”

Akinjo has scored over 20 points a few times now but in today’s game, he was very efficient while sharing the ball with his teammates and making smart decisions.

“I think [Akinjo] is becoming an all-conference player,” Miller said. “It was great to see him lead the charge tonight.”

The Wildcats cut down on their turnover problem throughout the last three games as they had 12 against Cal compared to 14, 17 and 18 vs. ASU and Stanford. This was also their seventh win of the season by 19 or more points, which is very impressive as they have played some tough opponents and have shown the ability to bounce back after a loss.

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Christian Koloko also had a very nice game considering his recent offensive struggles. Today, he scored nine points to go with six rebounds. This was his second game scoring eight or more points since Dec. 31, 2020. Mathurin and Tubelis, who have been Arizona’s two most productive players over the last few weeks had quiet games, but still had over 10 points in today’s game.

This was the Wildcats’ fourth game in the last ten days, two of those games were against Arizona State which seemed to take a toll on the team. Luckily, they have four days off before they hit the road to face Utah and Colorado within three days next weekend.

“When we are playing together as a team, I feel like we have the ability to beat everyone on our schedule,” Miller said. “We really need some time away to rest, I think it’s really going to be good that we don’t play our next game until Thursday.”

Freshman Kerr Kriisa is very close to being eligible to return to in-game action and Miller said he should be ready to play on the upcoming road trip starting Feb. 4 against Utah and Colorado. After losing Jemarl Baker Jr. due to a season-ending hand injury, the Wildcats have been in need of another guard/wing player to contribute to the team’s success.

“It will be really big to have [Kriisa] back,” Miller said. “It is a very difficult situation for [Kriisa] to play his first college game ever when everyone he’s playing against will be on game 15. We are starving for a perimeter player. It will take time for him to get comfortable.”

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