Randolph’s 25 leads Arizona over Houston Baptist
TUCSON, Ariz. — Brandon Randolph scored 25 points, Brandon Williams added 13 and Arizona opened the season with a 90-60 win over Houston Baptist Wednesday night.
The new-look Wildcats had some shaky moments early, but turned a nine-point halftime lead into a rout quickly in the second half.
Arizona struggled shooting from the perimeter, going 6 for 22 from the 3-point line, but hounded the Huskies on defense all night to extend its nonconference home winning streak to 48 straight games.
Chase Jeter had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Houston Baptist figured to have a hard time playing a Power Five program in one of college basketball’s toughest road environments and was put at a further disadvantage with 6-foot-11 senior center Josh Ibarra unable to play due to a leg injury.
The Huskies held up OK inside, but struggled from the perimeter, going 5 for 21 from the 3-point arc while shooting 32 percent overall.
Jalon Gates led Houston Baptist with 12 points.
Arizona entered a season unranked for the first time since 2010 after a major roster overhaul.
The Wildcats lost their top five scorers from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, with (Dylan) Smith the top returner at 4.3 points per game.
Arizona was sloppy offensively early, putting up tough shots and carelessly turning the ball over. The Wildcats rallied some to hit 9 of 24 shots in the first half, but had 11 turnovers.
The Wildcats led 33-24 behind their defense.
Using its size and quickness to harass the Huskies, Arizona held Houston Baptist scoreless for nearly 3½ minutes to open the game and 2-for-16 shooting to open with a 13-4 run.
Houston Baptist fought back to pull within five, but continued to struggled against the bigger Wildcats, going 8 for 34 from the floor and 1 for 10 from 3-point range.
Arizona cleaned up its turnovers in the second half and took control early, going on an 11-0 run to build the lead to 50-35.
Houston Baptist held its own for stretches against a Pac-12 school on the road, something it can build on when the Southland Conference season starts.
Arizona overcame its early struggles with a strong second half, improving to 10-0 in season openers under coach Sean Miller.
Houston Baptist hosts Fordham on Saturday.
Arizona hosts Cal Poly on Sunday.