Arizona Basketball: Wildcats breeze past Golden Bears 87-65, move to 4-0 in Pac-12 play
Arizona men's basketball won their first conference game of the season against Colorado on Thursday, Jan. 3.
The Arizona men’s basketball team completed their first road trip in Pac-12 play with an 87-65 victory over the California Golden Bears, sweeping the Bay Area school and improving to 13-4 on the season and 4-0 in the conference.
Freshman Brandon Williams carried the ‘Cats early on, scoring 10 of the first 14 points for Arizona, picking up the load while leading scorer Brandon Randolph struggled, as he went just 1-6 with four points in the first half.
Arizona at one point went on an eight-minute drought, once again struggling against a zone defense, something the team has had issues with this season. Cal was unable to capitalize on this, shooting just 32.1 percent and trailing by 12 at halftime.
For Arizona, the attitude change that took place after halftime was evident, as the Wildcats looked locked in and focused as soon as Bill Walton welcomed us back from Richard Jefferson's halftime analysis. The pace was fervent, as the two-guard system that Arizona has grown into this season seemed to be bearing its fruit as Justin Coleman and Williams set the pace.
The second half also saw Randolph finally come alive. After the rough first half, Randolph knocked down all three of his attempts after halftime to keep his streak of scoring double digits in every game this season alive, finishing with 12. The ‘Cats made their first eight shots of the half, opening the game up for good.
Arizona was paced by Chase Jeter, who had a career high 23 points and nine rebounds on 8-11 shooting. Four ‘Cats scored in double figures, led by Jeter, who finished with 16, and Williams. Justin Coleman looked to be feeling no lingering effects from his shoulder injury, scoring 13 points and leading the way with five assists.
The Arizona starters were allowed an early exit due to the nature of the blowout, with Devonaire Doutrive and Alex Barcello taking over things for the Wildcats with a little over five minutes left.
The ‘Cats out-rebounded Cal on the night by 10 and shot 56.1 percent from the floor, while their defense limited the Golden Bears to just 34.5 percent. Arizona, a team that has rarely dominated its opponent this season in the paint, completely dominated the outmatched Golden Bears as the Wildcats used their quickness and spacing to take advantage of Cal's bigger but less nimble big men.
The night was capped off by Ira Lee's thunderous dunk that seemed to come out of nowhere, making two games in a row where Lee has exploded off of the floor and violently thrown down a dunk, this time from the left wing, and it got Bill Walton's blessing.
Arizona returns home now for a matchup against preseason conference-favorite Oregon. The Ducks have struggled so far in conference, going 0-2 and blowing a 17-point second-half lead on Thursday against UCLA at home. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Follow Mark Lawson on Twitter