Arizona’s first three opponents may end up being the worst three it faces all season. But unlike some other Pac-12 schools, the Wildcats didn’t play down to that competition.
Kerr Kriisa hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 24 points and the Wildcats led by as much as 30 in the first half in an easy 104-77 win over Utah Tech on Thursday night at McKale Center.
Fresh off his second career triple-double, Kriisa was 6 of 7 from outside and made all six foul shots, adding four assists and five rebounds. For the season he’s made 11 of 16 triples.
Azuolas Tubelis had 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, Cedric Henderson Jr. went for 20 (after scoring just eight in his first two games with the UA) and Oumar Ballo had another double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Wildcats (3-0) shot 63.6 percent and were 12 of 22 from 3, with Henderson and Pelle Larsson each draining a pair.
Arizona went 22 of 22 from the line, setting a school record for best free throw percentage in a game with at least 20 attempts.
The UA led 49-21 at the break, holding Utah Tech to 7-of-37 shooting (18.9 percent) in the first half. The Trailblazers (1-3) surpassed their first-half scoring total less than eight minutes into the second half but couldn’t get closer than 23 points.
Arizona fell behind 4-0 in the first two minutes, missing its first two shots and turning it over on the game’s first possession, but then it flipped a switch and before you knew it the Wildcats led 23-6. That run included five 3-pointers, as many as they had in the previous game against Southern.
But the turnover issues remained, with the UA giving it away on five straight possessions at one point. They turned it over 12 times in the first half and 19 for the game. The Wildcats have turned it over 62 times in three contests.
An 18-2 run made it 41-13 with 5:08 left before halftime and ended up with five more rebounds than the Trailblazers had points in the opening 20 minutes.
Arizona hits the road for its next four games, beginning with three at the Maui Invitational. The Wildcats open with Cincinnati at 9:30 p.m. MST Monday in Lahaina, Hawaii.