Loren Woods. Andre Iguodala. Kerr Kriisa. That’s the list of Arizona players with multiple triple-doubles.
Kriisa joined the ultra-exclusive club on Friday night with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in the Wildcats’ 95-78 win over Southern.
The clinching rebound came with 9:36 left after Oumar Ballo blocked a drive by Southern’s Jaronn Wilkens and Kriisa grabbed the loose ball, giving him Arizona’s 11th triple-double in school history. The last was his in February when he had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Utah.
“I gotta give a lot of credit to my teammates, they made the baskets that I passed to them,” he said. “I just got lucky today.”
Kriisa was 4 of 7 from the field, hitting 3 of 6 3-poitners, and also dished out the most assists by a Wildcat since Mustafa Shakur had 12 against Stanford in 2006 (since Mike Bibby had 13 against Morgan State in 1997.
Arizona (2-0) shot 54.5 percent, this coming after it set a single-game school record of 71.7 percent in Monday’s 117-75 win over Nicholls. The 212 points in the first two games are the most for the Wildcats in back-to-back contests since they had 237 against Washington and ASU in 1998.
Ballo, Pelle Larsson and Azuolas Tubelis all scored 17 for the Wildcats, with Larsson tying his career high.
Arizona led 49-31 at the half, taking nearly as many foul shots (25) and field goal attempts (26). The game featured 57 total fouls, including three technicals, and 76 free throws, with the UA going 30 of 46 and Southern (0-2) making 20 of 30.
Southern’s 35 fouls tied for the most by an opponent at McKale Center with Duke in 1991 (in overtime) and ASU in 1973.
The final score was much closer than the game, with Southern going on a 15-1 run against Arizona’s third unit to get as close as 90-75 with 1:42 to go. The Wildcats led by 29 with 4:26 remaining but the last batch of its 19 turnovers—after committing 24 on Monday—allowed the Tigers to finish the game on an 18-6 run.
“It’s young players, old players, I mean it’s just mistakes,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “We’ve gotta clean it up. I think when we’re not turning the ball over, we’re pretty efficient. We just got to keep learning, we got to keep learning. You just gotta have a better understanding of just valuing possession and we’ll get there.”
Southern didn’t score until almost four minutes into the game, missing its first six shots and turning it over three times. The Tigers fouled twice in the first 20 seconds, had Arizona in the bonus less than eight minutes in and were already in double digits before guard PJ Byrd fouled Kriisa hard, leading to a brief dust-up.
Byrd and Larsson were hit with double technicals with 8:59 left in the first half, while Ballo had to be escorted away from the Southern players as the teams were separated.
All told, the Tigers committed 18 first-half fouls with 10 of the 13 players they used getting called for at least one.
Arizona is back in action Thursday at McKale against Utah Tech, the final tune-up before facing Cincinnati in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.