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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 11 Arizona MBB cruises past Cal to remain undefeated at home

Olivia Malone
Arizona’s Oumar Ballo (11) tips off the game against UC Berkeley on Thursday, Feb 1st. The night ended with a steep 91-65 point win for the Wildcats.

The No. 11 Arizona men’s basketball team effortlessly cruised past the University of California, Berkeley, 91-65, in McKale Center on Thursday, Feb. 1. The Wildcats (16-5, 7-3 Pac-12) behind a big night from center Oumar Ballo, moved to 11-0 at home this season and remain atop the Pac-12 standings. 

“It’s time to start playing consistently really good basketball,” said Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd. “I told our guys that’s what you do in February, you’re building for March and then hopefully build it for April.” 

First Half:

The first half was all Arizona. The team quickly took a 16-6 lead less than five minutes into the opening half, with nine of Arizona’s first 16 points coming from its big man, Ballo, who made each of his first four shots. 

Although a 5-1 run by Cal cut the Arizona lead down to six, Caleb Love and KJ Lewis hit back-to-back threes, sparking a 12-0 Wildcat run. By the midway point of the opening half, Arizona had a commanding 29-11 lead, as the Golden Bears could not find any answers against the Wildcats.

“Arizona is a special place, some teams have followers, and we got fans,” Lloyd said. “Our fans are participating in our program, and that’s what makes our place special.” 

Arizona went into halftime with a 48-28 lead. The first half of the game was a testament to the Wildcats’ ability to control both the glass and the paint. Arizona outrebounded Cal 25-11 and outscored them 18-8 in the paint. The Wildcats shot 54% from the field, compared to the Golden Bears, who shot 35%. 

Arizona had four players score seven or more points, with Ballo leading the way with 11 points and eight rebounds. Keshad Johnson had 10 points, Love had nine points and six rebounds, and Lewis had seven points. 

Second Half:

Despite a sluggish start to the second half, Arizona maintained its dominance over the Golden Bears. Cal managed to reduce the Wildcat lead to 15 within the initial minutes of the second half. Nevertheless, by the midway point of the second half, the Wildcats re-established control of the game, extending their lead to 25 points. As the half progressed, the Wildcats continued to widen the lead, ultimately leading by as many as 29 points late in the second half.

“I feel like we are getting that rhythm back that we had in the beginning,” said freshman KJ Lewis. “We are getting that joy back, you know, that competitive nature back again.”

Arizona ultimately cruised to a dominant 91-65 victory over the Golden Bears. Ballo finished the night with a double-double and a perfect 8-8 from the field, scoring a team-high 22 points while hauling in 13 rebounds. Ballo’s 22 points were a McKale Center career-high for the senior. 

“When Oumar plays with the effort and energy like he has the past couple of games, we’re a different team,” Lloyd said. 

Johnson also showcased a strong performance, contributing 15 points and securing five rebounds. Additionally, Lewis had a standout night, scoring a career-high 14 points with a 4-6 record from the field. Meanwhile, Love had a relatively quiet night from the field with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

The Wildcats asserted their dominance both on the boards and in the paint. Arizona displayed a commanding presence by out rebounding Cal 52-32. Furthermore, they established their supremacy in the paint, outscoring the Golden Bears 40-21

Looking ahead: 

The Wildcats look for redemption when they host Stanford University on Sunday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. in McKale Center. The Wildcats lost to the Cardinal 100-81 on Dec. 31, 2023 earlier this season. 

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