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No. 4 Arizona MBB defeats Alabama in Hall of Fame Classic

Motiejus+Krivas+extends+in+an+attempt+to+block+a+Colgate+shot+in+the+beginning+of+the+second+half+in+McKale+Center+on+Dec.+2.+Arizona+began+the+second+half+only+five+points+ahead+of+Colgate%2C+a+lead+that+was+extended+almost+immediately.%0A
Mason Kumet
Motiejus Krivas extends in an attempt to block a Colgate shot in the beginning of the second half in McKale Center on Dec. 2. Arizona began the second half only five points ahead of Colgate, a lead that was extended almost immediately.

The No. 4 Arizona men’s basketball team defeated the University of Alabama in the Hall of Fame series on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 9 p.m. in the Footprint Center in Phoenix where the Wildcats won 87-74. Arizona is coming off its first loss of the season against Purdue University on Saturday, Dec. 16, where the Wildcats lost 92-84 while in Indianapolis. This was the fifth meeting between Arizona and Alabama as the Crimson Tide led the series record (3-1) heading into this matchup.

First Half

Alabama was first to score when they proceeded to go on a 9-0 run early on. Offensive rebounds seemed to affect this as the Crimson Tide had six within the first five minutes. Guard Caleb Love put Arizona on the board with free throws to get in the game. As Arizona crept up on the score, Kylan Boswell was able to score from beyond the arc to get within four points when Alabama went 1-16 from 3-point range. Arizona found itself in foul trouble as Love and Keshad Johnson each had two fouls by the half-point mark in the first quarter. Additionally, Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd had a technical foul assigned to him during an intense discussion with an official. Jaden Bradley had the crowd in Footprint Center on their feet as he made a lay-up off a fast break to tie the game at 23.

Boswell obtained Arizona’s first lead which didn’t last long as Alabama forward Mohamed Wague dunked the ball to once again tie the game at 30. Sam Walters had a team high 12 first half points. The lead continued to be a toss-up closing in on the last minute of the first half as Johnson shot from beyond the arc. Arizona led 41-40 going into the half with Oumar Ballo leading with 11 points for the Wildcats.

Second Half

Ballo opened up the second half with a dunk as Alabama forward Grant Nelson was 0-7 from beyond the arc before he made a 3-pointer to tie the score. Alabama picked up the 45-43 lead as Aaron Estrada made a lay-up. The Crimson Tide went on a brief 10-0 run early on in the second quarter until Motiejus Krivas stopped the bleeding with a lay-up of his own. Arizona caught up to lead after Love made his first field goal of the night as Pelle Larsson put Arizona up once again 56-54 shortly after with a lay-up. Alabama piled on eight turnovers while Arizona went on a 14-3 run marking the score at 68-56. Alabama forwards Wague and Nick Pringle fouled out of the game forcing head coach Nate Oats to go small. Shortly after Walters scored a 3-pointer, Nelson hit a jumper for Alabama to try and close the 75-68 gap. Ultimately, Alabama’s efforts were overshadowed by Arizona maintaining control in the last few minutes of the second quarter. Larsson and Ballo would go on to lead with 16 points apiece while Nelson led with 17 points for Alabama. The Wildcats would go on to win 87-74 against the Crimson Tide in the Hall of Fame series.

Coach Lloyd was asked about how proud he was of the team as Arizona was able to gain back control of the game: 

“I’m really proud of our response […]. There’s ups and downs, you got to be able to weather those […]. The style we play, you know, it could be a little crazy at times, but I think that’s good.” 

Looking ahead

Arizona is remaining on the road to face No. 14 Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, Dec. 23, at 1 p.m. in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas during the Desert Classic.


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