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Arizona MBB gets back on track at home vs ASU

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Nathanial Stechever | The Daily Wildcat

Christian Koloko, a junior on the Arizona men's basketball team, shoots his second round of free throws on Nov. 9 in McKale Center. The Wildcats were up at half 42-22.

The Arizona men's basketball team defeated ASU 67-56. This win moves the Wildcats to 17-2 on the season and 7-1 within the PAC-12 Conference.

The Wildcats came out of the gates slow, only hitting one of their first nine shots. It was the complete opposite for the Sun Devils as they hit five of their first seven shots giving them an early 12-8 lead after the first five minutes. Arizona’s aggressive defense has been able to create turnovers, but their sloppy offense has prevented them from cutting into ASU’s early lead. 

Arizona's cold start continued throughout the first half as they finished shooting 24 percent (7-29). Luckily they were able to get to the free-throw line 21 times and were able to convert 18 of them. ASU was on fire in the first half, shooting 44 percent from the field (12-47) and 50 percent from the 3-point range. The Wildcats were able to put together a run at the end of the first half to tie the game at 32.

After fighting back from an 8-point deficit the Wildcats were able to take their first lead of the game at 36-35 with 17:34 left in the second half. Arizona’s defense continued to make the Sun Devils work on the offensive end, forcing turnovers and contested shots. 

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However, the Wildcat offense still could not find any flow as they continued to make bad decisions with the ball, failing to convert open looks. Guard Kerr Kriisa made Arizona’s first 3-point shot of the game at the 15:25 mark in the second half. 

Once Arizona was able to take the lead, they began to take more control of the game. Since the eight minute mark in the second half, the Wildcats went on a 10-1 run to open up their biggest lead of the game at 12 points.

Starting center Christian Koloko had another good showing today as he posted a double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and three steals. 

Arizona once again got a huge boost from their bench as they totaled 25 points. Center Oumar Ballo once again led the unit with 14 points on 4 for 6 shooting. Wing Pelle Larsson also had a good game off the bench with 8 points and hitting 5-6 free throws. 

When asked about his recent performance, Ballo talked about his off-season work. 

“It’s a long season, you need to put in the work and it will pay off," Ballo said. 

The Wildcats will be back in action in McKale Center Thursday, Feb. 3, against No. 7 UCLA at 6 p.m. MST.

Arizona will also take on USC in McKale on Saturday, Feb. 5, at 3 p.m. MST.


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