The Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team did what it had to do in the first of two legs in the Bay Area – win.
It did it in style sometimes and others not so much. It was a game of style points – but enough points to run away with the win, its seventh straight.
Arizona was more than good enough in Berkeley, California in as much as UA won 85-62 to move to 22-3 overall and 11-3 in the Pac-12 Conference. Most importantly, Arizona kept pace with UCLA for the conference lead, staying just ½ game behind the Bruins in the standings.
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said he was “happy” with the performance and called the effort “workman like” in beating up California in a game that was relatively easy from start to finish.
Lloyd said his team came out with good energy and effort.
Figure UA jumped out to a 11-1 lead in the first few minutes and then 21-6 and kept a double digit for most of the game. The game was never in doubt. Cal missed its first seven shots.
“Cal isn’t having a great season and you feel bad for them, but we got a job to do and our guys came out and they did the job,” said UA coach Tommy Lloyd on his postgame radio show. “We didn’t we didn’t sleepwalk through it, and I’m happy for that because you know, we’re climbing.
“I tell our guys it’s February – time to climb.”
Most everyone shine, although Kerr Kriisa had a tough night of it, going ??. But Lloyd revealed Kriisa had been ill most of the week.
“I gotta commend Kerr, Kerr was pretty sick over the last three, four days,” Lloyd said. “For him to come out there and give us the minutes he does was awesome. I was happy for the other guys too.”
The other guys stepped up. Azuolas, the easy frontrunner for conference player of the year, had 23 points and 14 rebounds. Pelle Larsson had 16 points (hitting four 3-pointers), Oumar Ballo had 14 points, Cedric Henderson had 11 points and eight rebounds and freshman Kylan Boswell had 10 points.
Arizona got points in every way in the easy win.
Lloyd said he saw Ballo “get some of his mojo” back and saw Boswell “continue to develop.”
As for Larsson, well he finished one point shy of his career high.
“I was telling everybody … maybe he’s just one of these slow starters and strong finishers,” Lloyd said. “The way he’s starting to shoot the ball now and get to the basket … he’s a really good player.”
He commended Henderson for being “all over the place” and he praised Courtney Ramey for having “a pretty good floor game after having five assists and no turnovers (so) “that’s great stuff.”
Of course, there were the free throws that would have made the game more of a blowout. But Arizona hit just 6 of 17.
“That’s a big deal,” Lloyd said. “We’re a great free throw shooting team so we have to tighten them up.”