No. 8 Arizona runs past Cal Baptist 84-60 to stay unbeaten
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Azuolas Tubelis had 19 points and Bennedict Mathurin added 14 as No. 8 Arizona shook off a slow start to beat Cal Baptist 84-60- on Saturday.
The Wildcats (11-0) continued their best start since opening the 2014-15 season with 12 straight wins, but it wasn't easy early on. They trailed by 11 less than four minutes into the game and didn't take their first lead until 9:01 left in the first half.
Tubelis was 7 of 16 from the field after starting 1 of 6, adding seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while Mathurin was 5 of 11 and had three of Arizona's eight 3-pointers.
Christian Koloko added 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks and Oumar Ballo had 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks as Arizona blocked 12 Cal Baptist shots - 10 in the first half - and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points while the Lancers (8-3) didn't score on any of their 12 offensive boards.
Arizona extended a seven-point halftime lead to 16 less than 3 minutes into the second half, with 10 of its first 12 points coming from Tubelis. A 3-pointer by Pelle Larsson capped an 8-0 run to put the Wildcats up 61-41 with 12:31 remaining.
Cal Baptist was led by Ty Rowell, who had 11 points and was 3 for 3 from 3-point range, while freshman guard Taran Armstrong - who came in leading Division I in assists at 8.3 per game - finished with nine points, three assists and four turnovers.
The Lancers hit their first six shots including five 3-pointers to build an 18-7 lead with 16:14 left in the first half. But they missed 19 of their next 21 shots, clanking 13 in a row during a 14-0 Arizona run to put the Wildcats up 26-22 with 7:29 to go before halftime.
Arizona outscored Cal Baptist 28-11 over the final 8:37 of the first half to lead 40-33 at the break.
Cal Baptist: The Lancers are in the fourth year of a five-year transition from Division II to Division I and won't be eligible for the Western Athletic Conference or NCAA tournaments until 2022-23. They are now 0-5 all-time against power-conference programs, including a loss earlier this season at Texas.
Arizona: The Wildcats are about to begin a four-game road trip, their longest since 2008. Arizona doesn't play again at McKale Center until Jan. 13 when it hosts Colorado for its Pac-12 Conference home opener.
Cal Baptist: Hosts Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday in its final non-conference game before starting WAC play.
Arizona: At No. 18 Tennessee on Wednesday.
California Baptist Head Coach Rick Croy
Overall Takeaways from the game:
"I did think we showed good resolve throughout the first half. I thought we had one lull in the second half where we didn't sprint hard enough. And if you don't sprint, they make you pay. They get organized very quickly in transition and they find their shooters. They hurt us inside – Tubelis is very difficult to guard in there – and that opened up the 3-point line for them. We have a lot to improve upon, but we have to turn right around and get ready for Southeast Missouri State.
On Arizona bigs changing the game inside:
"We did not do a good job there, and we have to learn from it. We took too many tough 2-point shots over guys that make it tough inside. Those guys are one of the best teams in the country in defending the 2-point shot and rim protection. We did not do a good enough job of getting inside, lifting them and then throwing out and getting to the second and third penetration. We have to take the film and learn from it and improve our consistency."
- After allowing the Lancers to make their first six shots of the game, the Arizona defense put the clamps down as Cal Baptist made six of their next 30 shots to close the half.
- The Wildcats blocked ten shots in the first half of Saturday's game. They entered the game averaging 6.6 blocks per game. It's the second game this season (Wichita State) with 10 blocks.
- Christian Koloko's four first-half blocks were his second most in a half following his five blocks in first half of UTRGV win.
- Center Oumar Ballo eclipsed his career high in blocks with five versus the Lancers. He also logged his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
- Following his career-high eight assists in Arizona's win last time out over Northern Colorado, sophomore Azoulas Tubelis tallied the second most assists in his career with five dimes versus Cal Baptist.
- Christian Koloko finished Saturday's victory over CBU with his third career double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Wildcats final margin of victory of 24 points marked the team's seventh win of 20 or more points.