Arizona is gonna miss having Cal as a conference opponent.
The Wildcats opened the final season of Pac-12 play with a dominant 100-81 road win over the Golden Bears on Thursday night. It was their 14th straight victory over Cal, the last 11 by double digits, and marked the first conference game with 100 points since 2018 at Washington State.
Caleb Love had 22 points, making 7 of 10 shots including all three 3-pointers, Motiejus Krivas scored 18 off the bench on just seven shots, Oumar Ballo had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double and Pelle Larsson added 12 points, four rebounds and seven assists as the UA shot 59.3 percent.
Arizona (10-2) led by 20 less than 10 minutes in and kept the margin at or above that mark until the final few minutes, shaking off 15 turnovers and a shaky defensive effort in the second half after playing lockdown D over the first 20 minutes when Cal (4-8) shot 26.5 percent.
A 54-26 halftime lead (which was 31 in the final minute of the first half) was down to 20 before the under-16 timeout as Cal started playing much more aggressively. The Bears made seven of their first 10 shots before Arizona stemmed the tide, aided by Love’s poster dunk over Stu Larson.
But while Cal was scoring more, it couldn’t defend Arizona, particularly inside. Starting center Fardaws Aimaq fouled out with about 13 minutes left, then backup Larson got his fifth with 9:54 remaining. Ballo was the big beneficiary of that, getting to the line 11 times to tie a career high.
Arizona forced Cal to call a timeout less than three minutes into the game after Keshad Johnson, an Oakland native who had 25 friends and family at Haas Pavilion, went coast-to-coast and down the lane for a slam. That was part of a 12-3 start, and another 14-0 run started by back-to-back 3s from Love made it 26-5 with 11:15 left in the first half.
Love’s third triple of the first half made it 44-17 with 4:24 left and a Larsson 3 with 1:34 to go gave Arizona its seventh 50-point half of the season.
The UA wraps up 2023 with a Sunday afternoon tilt at Stanford, where it lost 88-79 in February.