No. 2 Arizona brushes away Colgate after big second half in Tucson

Dec 2, 2023, 3:12 PM | Updated: 3:38 pm

Arizona Wildcats guard Caleb Love...

Arizona guard Caleb Love reacts after a basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Colgate Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Chris Coduto)

(AP Photo/Chris Coduto)

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Caleb Love scored 14 points, Oumar Ballo had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 2 Arizona made a strong statement to move up to No. 1 by overwhelming Colgate 82-55 on Saturday.

The Wildcats (7-0) overcame a shaky offensive start by dominating inside and going on a big run to open the second half. Arizona had a 44-14 advantage in the paint, 19 more rebounds and used a 16-2 run to push a five-point halftime lead to 22.

With the win, the Wildcats likely will move to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in a decade after top-ranked Purdue, No. 3 Marquette and No. 4 UConn all lost. Arizona’s fans certainly think they should, chanting “No. 1!” in the closing seconds.

The Raiders (4-4) managed to hang with Arizona the first half before being doomed by a shaky offensive start to the second.

Colgate missed nine of its first 10 shots as Arizona pulled away and went 10 of 29 from the floor in the second half. Braeden Smith led the Raiders with 11 points.

Coming off a six-point win over Michigan State, Arizona gave the Raiders a heavy dose of Love and Ballo.

The 7-foot, 260-pound Ballo bulled his way baskets around the rim and mixed in a couple of one-handed jumpers near the free throw line, scoring 12 points by halftime.

Love scored off the dribble and hit a pair of 3-pointers to score 10 first-half points.

Arizona led by as much 12 in the first half, but Colgate started hitting shots after struggling early to pull within 35-30 at halftime.

The Wildcats ratcheted up the defensive pressure to start the second half, holding Colgate to one field goal in the first eight minutes while stretching the lead to 55-33.

Even when the Raiders started to make shots, the Wildcats wouldn’t let them creep back into the game, reeling off three straight dunks — two by Keshad Johnson — to stretch the lead to 70-45.

Big picture

Arizona: No team has been able to match Arizona’s size and athleticism so far this season, and the Raiders were no different. Even with a slow start, the Wildcats blew out a midmajor opponent for the fifth time.

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Arizona hosts Wisconsin next Saturday.

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