The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

69° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Three takeaways from Arizona MBB’s victory over ASU

Jackie Cabrera

Arizona men’s basketball center Oumar Ballo dunks a ball on Thursday, Jan. 19, in McKale Center. The Wildcats won 81-66 against USC.

Saturday night in Las Vegas will be familiar territory for Arizona men’s basketball.

They advanced to the Pac-12 Conference Championship game after defeating ASU 78-59 Friday in the T-Mobile Arena. The Wildcats sent ASU head coach Bobby Hurley and his Sun Devils back to Tempe with a second-half surge. There are three reasons why:

1. Battle of the glass 

The Wildcats won tonight’s rebounding battle, outrebounding the Sun Devils by 14.

Since Oumar Ballo arrived at the tournament, his physicality and dominance on the interior has returned. The 7-foot center has been living on the glass, looking like the version fans saw in Maui, Hawaii, back in November during the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. He finished the night with 10 rebounds.

“When Oumar plays with force and balance, he is really good,” head coach Tommy Lloyd said. The guards also had their fair share of boards, as Ažuolas Tubelis was responsible for nine.

2. Pelle Larsson‘s playmaking ability

Continuing his efficiency off the bench, Larsson hit the dagger off the right wing with 5:51 left in the game. In only 24 minutes, he was 4/7 from the floor with 11 points.

Larsson has been responsible for anchoring the small-ball defense by playing the four position. When inserted off the bench, he gave the Wildcats a spark. His ability to open up the transition game allowed the Wildcats to control the tempo, playing at their fast pace.

Arizona finished with 12 fast break points, many coming while Larsson played alongside the three guards.

3. Defense came to play

The Wildcat defense has been lopsided at times during this season. Tonight, though, the defense was the story despite the impressive offensive efficiency.

The Sun Devils started the night shooting well from the perimeter. Arizona picked up the intensity, excelling in their coverages. The Sun Devils only shot 23% from the floor.

Arizona was able to stretch the lead out to double-digits because the 3-point shots were not falling for ASU. Hurley’s group lives and dies by the distance shooting, and Arizona opened up the floodgates as the Sun Devils shot 0-9 in the second half from the arc.

Follow Aidan Alperstein on Twitter

More to Discover