If the Arizona Wildcats aren’t ranked on Monday, we riot.
The Wildcats formally announced themselves as a team to be reckoned with, rolling past No. 4 Michigan 80-62 on Sunday night in Las Vegas. The victory gave the UA (5-0) a signature early-season win as well as the championship of the Roman Main Event at T-Mobile Arena.
“We’re here now and we belong,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said during his postgame radio interview.
Christian Koloko set a career high with 22 points, completely outplaying Michigan preseason All-American Hunter Dickinson. The junior was 8 of 13 from the field, dunking four times times while also pulling down seven rebounds and blocking four shots.
Christian Koloko points toward his mother, who made the trip from Cameroon to see her son play for the first time. "This is for her," he said over the PA.— Bruce Pascoe (@BrucePascoe) November 22, 2021
Arizona’s frontcourt dominated, with Azuolas Tubelis adding 13 and eight rebounds and even Oumar Ballo chipping in five rebounds (including three of Arizona’s 10 offensive boards) as the Wildcats outscored the Wolverines (3-2) 54-30 in the paint.
Bennedict Mathurin added 16 points and Dalen Terry went for 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, making up for a rough Friday night when foul trouble limited him to 11 minutes in the overtime win over Wichita.
Unlike that Wichita game, where Arizona turned it over 22 times and shot 40.7 percent, against Michigan it only gave the ball away 10 times—and only three in the first half—while shooting 50 percent from the field. The Wildcats held the Wolverines to 43.4 percent shooting, including 1 of 14 from 3-point range.
Arizona led 37-29 at the half and extended it to 59-42 with 13:18 left after scoring on its first 11 possessions. The Wildcats made their first eight shots and 5 of 6 free throws.
The UA also hit its first two 3-pointers in the second half after going 2 of 13 from deep in the first half (and 5 for 27 from outside against Wichita State). For the game the Wildcats were only 4 of 21 from 3, by far their biggest flaw so far this season.
The Wildcats went more than three minutes without scoring, and more than five minutes without a field goal, a period that coincided with both Koloko and Tubelis sitting for most of it. Yet Michigan couldn’t cut into the lead and even Dickinson couldn’t capitalize, missing a wide-open layup with nine minutes left.
Dickinson, a 7-foot-1 sophomore, had 11 points but was just 4 of 10 from the field.
The Wildcats used a 7-0 run to go up 19-16 midway through the first half, but they only managed one basket the next three minutes as they started to settle for long jumpers rather than work inside.
Michigan retook the lead on a Dickinson jumper with 7:57 to go, but then Arizona ended the half on an 18-9 run that six different players score. In the middle was a personal 7-0 run by Terry, who played on 11 minutes Friday due to foul trouble.
Arizona forced three charges in the first half, two by Kriisa in a 47-second span and another by Pelle Larsson, part of 10 first-half turnovers by the Wolverines.
The UA returns to action Saturday at home against Sacramento State, a game that will begin at McKale Center roughly around the time Arizona’s football game at ASU is ending in Tempe.