Like most college basketball teams nowadays, Arizona’s roster is filled with a mix of newcomers and transfers. But a couple of the old guard were the ones to take center stage on Saturday.
Seniors Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson both reached 1,000 points for their careers, part of a balanced and ultra-efficient scoring effort by the Wildcats in a 92-73 win over Utah at McKale Center.
Ballo had 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting along with nine rebounds, while Larsson had 13 on 5-of-9 shooting. Caleb Love was 9 of 15 for 23 points, adding six assists and six rebounds, Keshad Johnson made 9 of 11 shots for 20 and Kylan Boswell made 3 of 5 3s for 11 points with six assists.
10th-ranked Arizona (12-3, 3-1 Pac-12) shot a season-high 60.3 percent, its best in a regular-season Pac-12 game in nearly two years, and made 10 of 18 3s. Utah (11-4, 2-2) shot 41.2 percent and was 10 of 35 from 3 including 3 of 17 in the second half when the Utes were outscored 50-34.
Up 42-39 at halftime, Arizona started to pull away early in the second half via a 12-0 run that included a monster dunk from Love after he nearly lost the ball at midcourt and had to chase it down in the backcourt. That was one of three dunks for the Wildcats in the first five minutes, then a fourth—an alley-oop from Love to Larsson—gave Larsson his milestone and the UA a 61-48 lead with 12:28 to go.
A personal 8-0 run by Love upped the lead to 17, and Utah got it to 13 before Arizona scored nine in a row that included a dunk for Ballo to get to 1,000.
Five straight points from Johnson, who had 10 in the first 10 minutes, keyed a 9-0 run to put Arizona up 27-19 midway through the first half. The Wildcats led 32-23 with 5:01 left after a Ballo dunk off a Larsson dish before Utah started hitting the 3s it was missing earlier.
Back-to-back triples by Gabe Madsen got the Utes within three, then Ben Carlson swished one to tie it at 36 with 1:53 left in the first half. Utah was 7 of 18 from 3 in the first half.
Boswell matched that, hitting threes on consecutive possessions to ensure Arizona had the lead at the break.
Arizona returns to action—and the road—next Saturday at Washington State. The Wildcats’ next home game is Jan. 17 against USC.