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Ballo scores 22, grabs 13 rebounds, leads No. 11 Arizona past California 91-65

  • AP
  • Feb 01, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Pelle Larsson fed a streaking Caleb Love with a perfectly-placed bounce pass, who drove baseline and then dished to Keshad Johnson for an easy two-handed slam.

It was the kind of beautiful basketball that made the Arizona Wildcats one of the best teams in the country for the first two months of the season. Now, they’re starting to look like that group once again.

Oumar Ballo scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Johnson added 15 points and No. 11 Arizona rolled to a 91-65 win over California on Thursday night.

“This is February – it’s time to start playing consistent, really good basketball,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I told our guys, in February you’re building for March, and then hopefully building for April.

“I think our guys are starting to settle in and recalibrate a little.”

Arizona (16-5, 7-3 Pac-12) never trailed, jumping out to a 29-11 lead by midway through the first half. The 7-foot, 260-pound Ballo scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds during that opening stretch.

“Feels great,” Ballo said. “Feels like team basketball.”

The Wildcats took a 48-28 halftime lead after shooting 56% from the field and outrebounding the Golden Bears 25-11.

“Arizona bull-rushed us on the glass and they completely dominated the glass early in the game,” Cal coach Mark Madsen said. “They just set the tone. We didn’t have the energy to start the game.”

California (8-13, 4-6) cut the margin to 15 points early in the second half, but couldn’t get any closer. Love’s 3-pointer with 12:30 left pushed the Wildcats back up by 22.

Ballo hit all eight of his shots from the field and had six offensive rebounds, doing all his work in just 22 minutes. He became the 54th player in program history to pass 1,000 career points, hitting the mark early in the first half.

“His key comes down to energy, effort and outworking people,” Lloyd said. “When you put energy and effort with that mass, it’s a problem. I thought he played a really clean game. He was really difficult for them to handle.”

KJ Lewis scored 14 points off the bench while Love added 12.

The Golden Bears were led by Jalen Celestine’s 13 points while Rodney Brown Jr. had 12. Jaylon Tyson added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Cal shot just 7 of 28 (25%) from 3-point range.

Arizona improved to 11-0 at home this season. The Wildcats swept the season series from the Golden Bears, beating them 100-81 on the road last month.

BIG PICTURE

California: The Golden Bears have been a pleasant surprise in the Pac-12 under the first-year coaching of Madsen, winning four of their previous six games before Thursday. They simply ran into a buzzsaw in Tucson, falling into an early hole in a tough road environment.

Arizona: The Wildcats remain in first place in a crowded Pac-12 race. Arizona’s muddled through some inconsistent play over the past month, but there’s little doubt that when it’s rolling, the offense possesses ability that few other teams in the country can match.

UP NEXT

California: At Arizona State on Saturday.

Arizona: Host Stanford on Sunday.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

Copyright 2024 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

12Taway team logo California 8-13283765home team logo 11 Arizona 16-5484391

McKale Memorial Center Tucson, AZ

TOP SCORERS
32J. Celestine G13PTS2REB0AST
11O. Ballo C22PTS13REB0AST
team logo

California

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
J. Celestine1320421
J. Tyson10104330
F. Aimaq1050328
K. Kennedy642230
J. Cone503230
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
R. Brown Jr.1201018
G. Newell300322
G. Larson22039
J. McCloskey21001
W. Robinson20002
D. Curtis02005
M. Bowser00004
N. Okafor
V. Pavlovic
J. Karapetian
A. Claiborne Jr.
M. Desler
D. Askew
Total65261020200
team logo

Arizona

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
O. Ballo22130222
K. Johnson1552027
C. Love1274129
K. Boswell745029
P. Larsson363228
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
K. Lewis1443116
J. Bradley603316
F. Borovicanin43005
M. Krivas450216
W. Menaugh20011
C. Martinez20104
P. Murauskas00004
G. Weitman00003
D. Anderson
H. Veesaar
J. Cook
W. Kuykendall
L. Champion
Total91472112200