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Arizona men’s basketball runs past Colgate in 2nd half, avoiding letdown with No. 1 ranking on line

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-colgate-raiders-final-score-recap-stats-highlights Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

On a weekend where so many ranked teams have lost, the soon-to-be No. 1 squad in America made sure not to avoid that trend.

Second-ranked Arizona shook off a slow start offensively before flipping a switch late in the first half and then running back Colgate 82-55 on Saturday afternoon at McKale Center.

It was the 25th consecutive nonconference home win for the Wildcats (7-0) and, combined with Purdue’s loss at Northwestern on Friday night, should catapult them to the top of the next Associated Press poll. Arizona was last No. 1 in the country in 2014 when it took a 21-0 record into Berkeley.

(No need to dredge up what happened after that).

Arizona had four players in double figures, its fewest of the season, led by Caleb Love, who went for 14 points along with eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block. Oumar Ballo had 13 points and 10 boards for his first double-double of the season, while Keshad Johnson and Pelle Larsson had 10 points apiece.

Arizona shot 46.5 percent, its worst accuracy at home this season, but pulled down 14 offensive boards against one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the nation, after having none in the first 11-plus minutes, and turned those into 16 second-chance points. Colgate only had one offensive rebound, coming as time expired in the second half, preventing the UA from holding an opponent without one for the first time since 2015.

The UA led 35-30 at the half after building a 12-point lead late in the first half. It opened the second half on an 18-2 run, including all eight points from Kylan Boswell, who had missed 11 straight shots dating back to the first half against Michigan State before making a layup and then draining a pair of 3s. Boswell added six assists, matching Larsson for the team lead.

Another 8-0 run made it 63-37 with 8:52 left, and a few minutes later the Wildcats scored three straight times on dunks. The first two were from Johnson off Boswell feeds, the last by KJ Lewis after getting a full court pass from Love, who had just blocked a layup.

The UA outscored the Raiders 47-25 in the second half, with Colgate shooting 34.5 percent after halftime and 41.5 percent for the game.

Colgate’s deliberate ball movement and defensive rebounding kept the scoring down early, with Arizona only up 12-10 nine minutes in. A 7-0 run broke the game open, and back-to-back Ballo baskets put the Wildcats up 31-19 with 4:20 remaining.

The Raiders got three 3-pointers from Braden Smith in a 2-minute span to get within five just before halftime.

The UA is off until next Saturday when it hosts Wisconsin. The Badgers (6-2) could be ranked after knocking off No. 3 Marquette 75-64.