Wins haven’t come easy for Arizona this season, but the Wildcats got a bit of a breather Saturday night as they blew by Cal, 87-65.
The win moves Arizona to 4-0 in Pac-12 play and gives Sean Miller his sixth road sweep of the Bay Area schools in nine tries.
Chase Jeter played one of his most efficient games in an Arizona uniform, scoring a career-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 shooting from the line.
Arizona bullied Cal in the paint, but it was the Wildcats’ 3-point shooting that gave them plenty of separation by the middle of the second half.
Brandon Williams, Brandon Randolph, and Justin Coleman combined to shoot 7 for 10 from behind the arc in what was one of Arizona’s best shooting displays, going 8 for 19 from 3 as a team.
The game didn't start out that way, however, as Arizona came out cold for much of the first half. Cal, who entered the night 0-3 in conference play, hung with UA until the last four minutes of the period.
After getting off to a quick 5-0 start, the Wildcats couldn’t find their stroke from the Haas Pavilion court.
At one point Arizona went over eight minutes without a made field goal until Randolph broke things open with a four-point play with 3:31 to go in the half.
Arizona extended the lead to double digits, and Jeter tapped in a halftime buzzer-beater layup to make it 40-28 Wildcats at break.
From there, Arizona never looked back.
The lead quickly ballooned to 17 points within the first three minutes of the second half. A pair of Randolph three points in the span of 24 seconds squelched Cal’s chance at hanging in there.
Arizona took up to 26 points late in the second half, giving the Wildcats by far their most undemanding challenge since early non-conference play.
Arizona shot 56 percent to Cal’s 34 percent.
The Wildcats benefited from 17 points off the bench, including six points from Alex Barcello on 3-of-4 shooting. Barcello had not seen the court in Arizona’s previous two games.
While the sophomore has only had one prolific outing this season — scoring 16 points in a blowout against Georgia Southern — the fact that he saw his minutes tick up Saturday night may be indicate that Miller will utilize more in conference play.
On the contrary, Miller may have just been filling up minutes in what a win-in-the-bank against the Bears.
Maybe the most concerning line from Berkeley is that Cal managed to outrebound Arizona on the offensive glass by a margin of 14-11.
Cal’s 7-foot-3 freshman center Connor Vanover was responsible for keeping down Arizona’s production in that category despite a poor offensive showing himself.
The Bears counted on sophomore forward Justice Sueing for 27 points. He was the only Cal player to reach double digits in scoring.
The point guard showdown between Justin Coleman and Cal’s Paris Austin didn’t materialize much. Coleman had a productive 13 points and five assists looking unaffected by his shoulder injury, but Austin went a measly 2-8 from the field.
Arizona’s attention now turns to the Oregon schools. The Wildcats will need to take care of business at home against the Ducks and Beavers in order to maintain their spot atop the conference standings and their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.