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No. 4 Arizona rides massive second-half run to beat Alabama 87-74

  • AP
  • Dec 21, 2023

PHOENIX (AP) Arizona and Alabama traded missed shots and turnovers, neither able to get much of an offensive flow in an unfamiliar arena.

The Wildcats turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, sparking the offense in a run that changed the game.

Oumar Ballo had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Pelle Larsson added 16 points and No. 4 Arizona used a massive second-half run to beat Alabama 87-74 on Wednesday night in the Jerry Colangelo Hall of Fame Series.

“There’s ups and downs and you got to be able to weather those, you’ve got to be able to ride them out,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “You got to be able to change the course and I thought our guys did an incredible job in the style we play.”

Two of the nation’s top three scoring teams engaged in a surprising defensive battle, trading missed shots and turnovers.

With Arizona fans making the Footprint Center sound like McKale Center West, the Wildcats (9-1) had them roaring with a 19-3 run to take a 10-point lead midway through the second half.

“This was a home game for us,” Ballo said. “Everywhere we play, Arizona fans show up and they showed up for us tonight.”

Caleb Love scored nine straight points to put Arizona up 84-72 and help the team avoid losing consecutive games for the first time in three seasons under Lloyd. The Wildcats lost by eight to top-ranked Purdue on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide (6-5) arrived in the desert at the end of a brutal stretch of three games against top-10 teams for the first time in program history. Alabama failed in the first two, losing by six to Purdue and by three to No. 12 Creighton.

Poor shooting doomed the Tide in the third.

Alabama shot 34% and went 8 for 40 from the 3-point arc, exacerbating it with 18 turnovers that led to 26 Arizona points. Grant Nelson had 17 points and Sam Walters 15 to lead the Crimson Tide.

“We didn’t shoot it particularly well and we turned it over too much,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “Their physicality bothered us. They’re a tough, physical team.”

Two teams that average more than 92 points per game started out shooting like they were playing on bent rims, going a combined 4 of 26 from the floor.

Alabama started 3 of 19 and missed 11 straight shots at one point. Arizona missed its first eight shots, needing more than five minutes to hit its first.

The teams started to find the range after that – at least inside.

Alabama went 3 of 22 from and Arizona was only slightly better, hitting 3 of 12 from 3 to lead 41-40 at halftime.

“We couldn’t get it down low, their guards did a good job of keeping us out of the lane,” Oats said. “We got 40 3s. We need to make more of them.”

TOMMY’S TECHNICAL

Lloyd is known for keeping his composure, repeatedly saying a technical foul would do nothing but hurt his team.

He couldn’t help himself midway through the first half, picking up the first technical of his career when guard Kylan Boswell got crushed while diving for a loose ball.

“I didn’t say anything, but he said maybe I looked at our head of officials,” Lloyd said. “Getting a technical isn’t something I aspire to do, but we’ll move on.”

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: The Crimson Tide had a hard time hitting open shots in the first half and succumbed to Arizona’s defensive pressure in the second to finish 0-3 against three straight top 10 teams.

Arizona: The Wildcats were not at their best against Alabama’s length, shooting 43%. They made up for it with defense and free-throw shooting, hitting 27 of 37 from the line.

UP NEXT

Alabama: Hosts Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.

Arizona: Faces No. 14 Florida Atlantic in Las Vegas on Saturday.

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12Taway team logo Alabama 6-5403474home team logo 4 Arizona 9-1414687

Footprint Center Phoenix, AZ

TOP SCORERS
2G. Nelson F17PTS5REB2AST
3P. Larsson G16PTS6REB2AST
team logo

Alabama

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
G. Nelson1752230
M. Sears1263336
A. Estrada1116229
M. Wague570518
R. Griffen461328
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
S. Walters1520020
N. Pringle640513
J. Stevenson230310
L. Wrightsell Jr.210116
M. Dioubate
M. Scharnowski
K. Spears
D. Cosby Jr.
W. Harrell
K. Parker
Total74351225200
team logo

Arizona

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
O. Ballo16120030
P. Larsson1662438
K. Boswell1543133
C. Love1370425
K. Johnson1162328
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
K. Lewis942323
J. Bradley422417
M. Krivas33116
W. Menaugh
F. Borovicanin
D. Anderson
H. Veesaar
C. Martinez
P. Murauskas
J. Cook
W. Kuykendall
L. Champion
G. Weitman
Total87441220200