LAS VEGAS—With a formidable opponent, a partisan crowd—not the good kind—and a national, primetime TV audience, Arizona’s matchup with No. 14 Indiana had the energy normally reserved for a heavyweight boxing match, or maybe the UFC card going on across the street.
So it was only fitting that, no matter what was thrown at them, the Wildcats took each and every punch and always seemed to have a counter attack.
Arizona used a 17-0 run midway through the first half to take control and never give it back in an 89-75 win over Indiana at the Las Vegas Clash Saturday evening at MGM Grand Arena.
Azuolas Tubelis had 21 points, falling one basket shy of reaching 1,000 points for his career, while Oumar Ballo had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Pelle Larsson added 16 points, his most since the second game of the season, and Kerr Kriisa had 14 with seven assists and four 3-pointers, three coming in the second half all at critical moments.
The Wildcats (8-1) shot 49.2 percent and made 10 of 25 3s, including three from sophomore Adama Bal, who had gone 0 for 7 from outside in the previous six games. They outrebounded Indiana (8-2) by 10 and held a 20-point edge on points in the paint.
Indiana shot 42 percent and made 10 3s, four each by Miller Kopp and Race Thompson. Thompson came in 3 of 18 from outside but led the Hoosiers with 16 points, while Trayce Jackson-Davis and Xavier Johnson were a combined 7 of 23 from the field.
The first-ever matchup between the schools lived up to the billing when it came to intensity, though Arizona held the lead for all but 2:29 of game action and had a double-digit advantage for more than 15 minutes.
The Wildcats led 46-36 at the half, but two quick turnovers (after only five in the first 20 minutes) cut the edge to six in the opening minute. Indiana was within five when Courtney Ramey and Kriisa bookended an 8-0 run with 3 to get it back to double digits, only to see the Hoosiers score nine in a row to cut it to 55-50.
A 3 by Tamar Bates shaved Arizona’s lead to 59-56 with 12:44 remaining, but Kriisa drained his third triple on the other end and then Bal hit back-to-back 3s to put the Wildcats up 68-58. Another Kriisa 3, after making a free throw following a flop called on Indiana, upped it to a 14-point lead (74-60) with 8:29 remaining.
An 11-2 run got the Hoosiers within five again but then Henri Veesaar and Tubelis scored inside in a 22-second span. Two more Tubelis baskets in the paint made it 84-73 with 2:46 remaining.
Arizona led 10-8 when it went on a 17-0 run, getting scoring from five different players. Cedric Henderson Jr. and Ramey hit 3s, while Veesaar drained three free throws after getting fouled on a perimeter shot, and Larsson ended the run with five in a row to put the Wildcats up 27-8 with 11:13 left in the first half.
That run saw a crowd that was heavily in favor of Indiana still produce several ‘U of A!’ chants. But once Indiana broke the drought it got hot and stayed that way for a while. Thompson, in particular, was on fire from outside, draining three in a row after coming into the game 3 of 18 from 3-point range to get the Hoosiers within 36-31 with 3:47 left before the break.
The UA responded with a 7-0 run that included Ballo lunging into the courtside seats to save a loose ball which led to a transition 3 from Kriisa and then Ballo starting another break with a steal and a dish to Larsson by somehow stopping short of plowing over a defender in the lane.
Arizona returns to action Tuesday at home against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the first of four straight nonconference games at McKale Center before returning to Pac-12 play.