Arizona’s one-two punch was too much for Cincinnati.
The three-four-and-five punches weren’t bad either. And not to bring any boxing analogies into the mix – but Tommy Lloyd did in his opening remarks after Arizona defeated Cincinnati 101-93 in the first round of the Maui Classic. It was Arizona’s aggressive play inside with one and two that was the difference. Arizona is now 4-0.
Tubelis had 30 points and 11 rebounds; Ballo had 21 on 10 rebounds.
According to the Pac-12, it’s the first time two UA players had 20 points and double-digit rebounds was in 2003 when Luke Walton and Channing Frye did it.
“They’re great and they’re an advantage for us,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said on his postgame radio show on KCUB 1290. “And our guys did a good job of finding them. I think we’re living dangerously with some of those long balls sometimes but, man, I guess when they work they look good. But, Zoo is really special and Oumar, you can see, has really developed. Those guys were really productive in that type of battle. It shows a lot of progress from them and a lot of grit, as well.”
The grit may have been added by the others with first-time Cat Courtney Ramey and Cedric Henderson who had nice nights. Then there was the continued strong play of Kerr Kriisa, who had 11 points. Ramey had 17 points and Henderson had 14.
Ramey sat out the first three games after being suspended by the NCAA because he played in a non-sanctioned predraft NBA camp.
“He made some big plays in the end and made some layups, which is progress for him,” Lloyd said. “He (gave) us a huge lift in the second half.”
Arizona outscored Cincinnati 40-30 in the first half but didn’t in the second half, giving up too many 3-point shots. That’s despite playing its best second half of the season. UA shot 79.3 percent from the floor in the second half, finishing with 62.3 percent. It had hit its first 12 shots to begin the half.
“I just think we got great looks,” Ramey said of UA’s second half. “I think when you have Oumar and Zoo working down low, it kind of frees the guards up to get great looks. We attacked the paint early and Oumar and Zoo did a good job of putting points on the board early.”
Added Ballo: “We dominated inside in the first half and that let our guards be a little bit free to get wide-open looks.”
Now, on to No. 17 San Diego State. The step up in class – again – comes Tuesday night at 8:30.
“They do a really good job of getting veteran players and (that have) bought in to play a hard hat-type system,” Lloyd said of San Diego State. “So, we know it’s going to be a physical battle. We welcome that challenge because those are the type of teams you have to play in the NCAA tournament and that’s an aspiration for us and where we want to be as a program. We’re looking forward to the challenge and it’s going to be a great test. And I don’t know how it’s going to end up, but either way we’re going to have to make it a good thing for Arizona.”