No. 4 Arizona basketball opens Pac-12 play with win over Cal, Love slams poster dunk

Dec 29, 2023, 10:52 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm

Caleb Love...

Caleb Love #2 of the Arizona Wildcats drives to the basket during the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers in the Indy Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on December 16, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

No. 4 Arizona men’s basketball kicked off Pac-12 play with a 100-81 road win over California, leading by as many as 31 points on Friday night.

Caleb Love dropped 22 points and threw down a vicious poster dunk over Cal’s Gus Larson, barreling the defender over with the and-one in the second half.

Oumar Ballo collected a third-straight double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds after winning Pac-12 Player of the Week. Freshman 7-footer Motiejus Krivas added 18 points, as Arizona (10-2) outscored Cal 54-34 in the paint.

Arizona has scored at least 100 points in four of 12 games this season.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 12-3 lead early, including a highlight dunk from Oakland native Keshad Johnson one step in from the foul line on a fast break.

Another 14-0 run ballooned the lead to 21, and the Wildcats led 54-26 at the break on 67.7% shooting. Love had 16 points on seven shot attempts in the first half, while the Arizona bench had a 20-6 advantage.

It was the 17th time this season that Arizona has had a 10-0 run or more, second-most in the country behind Houston.

Cal won the second half by nine points but never went on a run to threaten Arizona’s commanding lead.

Arizona never trailed and led by double digits over the final 34 minutes. The Wildcats have won 14 straight against Cal.

“We know Cal is a team, they always get up big in the first 4-10 minutes,” Ballo said. “We had to come out and try to outscore them and make some steps to make them uncomfortable.”

It was a bounce-back game for Arizona following a 96-95 double-overtime loss to then-No. 14 Florida Atlantic last Saturday.

“We have high standards and our guys wanted to respond from our last game, and we want to establish a standard of how we play,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I thought we did that in the first half. I just think our guys came out and played with spirit and energy and kind of really took it to them right away.”

The Wildcats face Stanford on Sunday at 2 p.m. before returning home to take on Colorado next Thursday. Arizona’s only two losses this season have come against currently top seven-ranked opponents: No. 1 Purdue and No. 7 Florida Atlantic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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