Arizona Basketball

Arizona by the numbers: 82-55 over Colgate, and, oh, a possible No. 1 come Monday

“Number 1, number 1, number 1” … those were the screams of the Arizona student section at McKale Center with about a minute left in the Wildcats’ 82-55 win over Colgate.

They were guessing – and rightly so – the Cats will be No. 1 in the polls come Monday after No. 1 Purdue fell to Northwestern on Friday night.

“I think it’s great. It’s what we want in this program,” said Tommy Lloyd, said of the potential top spot and whose team is 7-0 this season. “I think we got to get comfortable being in this position. I mean, we’re not going to, you know, get big heads or make it too big of a deal. I know when I came to this program my dream is to make it one of the best in the country.”

So, here in the first week of December that’s where Arizona will likely be. It hasn’t been No. 1 since Jan. 27, 2014 when Sean Miller led the team to an eventual Elite Eight. Back then, Arizona’s streak at No. 1 lasted eight weeks.

What it all means is anyone’s guess. Lloyd said he thinks his team will handle the pressure.

Oumar Ballo all but said, what pressure? No. 1 is but a number.

“Honestly, it doesn’t really mean anything,” Ballo said. “It’s not March, it’s not April.”

Sound approach given it’s only December and so many things can happen and usually does.

It’s a number Arizona – and its fans – admire. But it was Saturday’s numbers that were the most important. UA treated its game like a stroll in the park, given it was once again balanced with points and rebounds.

Ballo had a double-double, getting 13 points and 10 rebounds by hitting six of eight shots. He did, however, go just 1 for 5 from the free throw line.

“Sometimes it happens and the more fouls that I draw the better because we’re gonna go to the bonus and that’s not gonna be a bad thing for the team,” Ballo said.

Still, it could be a concern at some point … again, it’s not March or April. So …

But Lloyd said Ballo is “coming along” and “trending in the right direction.”

That can go to Arizona as well just a few weeks into the season.

That said, Arizona has looked like a top team in the country so far, although Duke’s loss on Saturday to Damon Stoudamire’s Georgia Tech does diminish UA’s win (albeit on the road).

After starting a bit slow – although Lloyd had no bad comments about the start – Arizona poured it on in the second half, outscoring Colgate 47-25 in the second half. Heck, Colgate didn’t pick up its first offensive rebound until the final seconds of the game. By then Arizona had 14 and 45 total rebounds to its opponent’s 26.

“It just took us a little while …” Lloyd said.

Earlier he said you’re not going to beat a good team like Colgate by 30, um, but Arizona was good enough to beat them by 27.

Caleb Love, once again, led the Cats with 14 points and added eight rebounds. Then came Ballo and Keshad Johnson and Pelle Larsson each had 10 points.

Arizona won every major category, scoring 22 points off turnovers, 44 points in the paint and 16 second-chance points just to list a few.

So, the perceived or real slow start wasn’t a factor. After all, Lloyd said, the teams start at zero-zero and it takes time to get separation.

“Once you’ve taken that long (nine days since UA last played) you have a little slow start but once we found the rhythm got adjusted to like their tempo and pace,” said KJ Lewis. “We fixed everything. I think we got the jitters out.”

The jitters might be higher come Monday given UA could very likely be No. 1 in the polls.

“If you’re one of the best in the country, you’re going to stumble into being number one once in a while,” Lloyd said, continuing his thought from earlier. “And that’ll be the message and hopefully our guys will handle it well. It’s something that’s great for the fans that generates a little bit of excitement, but at the end of the day – next Saturday – I don’t think Wisconsin cares.”

Not in the least, the Badgers knocked off No. 3 Marquette on Saturday afternoon.

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