Arizona MBB moved to 9-0 after win vs Illinois in Champaign

For the first time since 2017-18, they are ranked in the AP top 10, currently eighth

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Nathanial Stenchever | The Daily Wildcat

Bennedict Mathurin, a guard on the Arizona men's basketball team, dunks on Dec. 8 in McKale Center. The Wildcats would go into halftime up 53-22.

Arizona men's basketball team defeated Illinois with a score of 83-79. 

With this solid performance, Arizona caught the ninth win in a row to begin the year under new coach Tommy Lloyd. 

Arizona started strong, going up 24-18 thanks to an on-fire Bennedict Mathurin, who scored 17 in just the first half (he finished with 30 and seven rebounds). From that moment on, a 19-points break from Illinois helped Trent Frazier and company to a 13-point advantage.

Arizona reacted strongly to one of the first real threats of the season. Azuolas Tubelis interrupted the drought and then Lloyd’s boys went off a 10-0 counter-break, closing the half down 42-38.

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In the second part of the game, Kerr Kriisa scored 17 points (19 total), carrying the Wildcats to a clutch win sealed with a couple of important baskets by Mathurin and Tubelis.

Illinois, now 7-3, was carried by the shining efforts of Alfonso Plummer (25 points and four rebounds) and Trent Frazier (24 and four).

Arizona turned the ball over 14 times in the game and collected 44 rebounds. Arizona shot 46% from the field (32/70) with a good 37% from the 3-point line (7/19) and a not-great 67% from free throws (12/18).

Tubelis finished the game with 16 points and eight rebounds. Christian Koloko had the first small slump of his tremendous season so far. He scored four points and grabbed seven rebounds, but suffered from Kofi Cockburn's physicality on the defensive event. 

Next up: Arizona will host Northern Colorado on Wednesday night and California Baptist on Saturday afternoon in McKale Center before a four-game road trip. 


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