Tommy Lloyd cautioned that Arizona’s first game was not against a “normal” season-opening opponent because of the pressure that Nicholls puts on ball handlers. But the result was a lot like the ones the Wildcats put up at the beginning of last year.
No. 17 Arizona dominated from wire to wire in a 117-75 win over Nicholls, scoring its most points in a game since 1998 and tied for the ninth-most in school history.
The Wildcats won going away despite turning it over 24 times, their most 2012, because they shot a school-record 71.7 percent overall and made 11 of 18 3-pointers.
Azuolas Tubelis had 23 points (on 10-of-12 shooting) with seven rebounds and six assists, the first UA player with that kind of line since Ivan Radenovic went for 37, 9 and 7 against Stanford in 2007. Oumar Ballo had 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Pelle Larsson had his first career double-double with 16 points, 10 boards and four assists and Adama Bal added 14 points.
The UA assisted on 30 of 38 field goals, with five different players dishing out at least four dimes. That included Kerr Kriisa, who had nine points (making 2 of 3 3s) and seven assists.
The Wildcats led 59-37 at the half, its most points in the opening 20 minutes since 2008. The lead reached 30 less than second minutes into the second half after an Bal 4-point play.
Nicholls made its first shot in the opening minute. By the time it made its second, Arizona had already put the game away, leading 30-4 thanks to a 16-0 run between the first and second media timeouts.
Five different Wildcats scored during that run, including triples by Cedric Henderson Jr., Larsson and Bal.
The UA went through a lull five minutes, getting outscored 16-11 and turning it over five times in that span, but then scored the next nine points to lead by 26 with 4:53 left in the first half.
Arizona is back in action Friday at home against Southern, which opened its season at UNLV.