Monday marked the opening night of college basketball around the country, and Arizona was in full force from the tip-off taking care of Nicholls State University, winning by 42 points. The Wildcats shot a school record 72% from the field, converting 38 shots out of 53 attempts.
Junior guard Pelle Larsson was a standout tonight, leaving the floor halfway through the second half after recording his first career double-double. Larsson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, leading the team in plus/minus differential of plus 40 when on the floor.
Despite his contributions to the box score this evening, Larsson did not seem overly carried away with his impressive numbers.
"My expectations for this season are to win," Larsson said.
After being a focal point off the bench for last season's team, the 6-foot-5 guard is all about winning, willing to sacrifice his statistics as long as the team is victorious when the horn sounds.
Arizona fans got to witness another impressive showing from the big-man Oumar Ballo. The junior center finished with 18 points and nine rebounds while shooting an efficient 8 for 11 from the free-throw line. Ballo recognizes he has made tremendous progress since last season.
“I’m a little more confident because I have a bigger role, and responsibilities come with that role," Ballo said. "For me, it’s just trying to be solid, doing the right thing and not forcing anything."
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As Christian Koloko left Tucson for the NBA this summer, Ballo acknowledges the coaching staff will rely on his consistent production. Ballo will be starting alongside Azuolas Tubelis in the frontcourt throughout the season.
Adama Bal continued to display his skill sets throughout the evening after playing well in the exhibition game last week. Bal finished with 14 points, but efficiency has been a constant theme to start the season. Bal converted on 80 percent from the floor while knocking down three for four shots from beyond the arc, one leading to a four-point play as he was fouled when shooting.
Head coach Tommy Lloyd praised Bal’s efficiency and production.
“He’s really coming along. He [Adama] got off to a slow start in the fall, then twisted his ankle," Lloyd said. "He’s been really good ever since then, I give that kid credit."
Bal will be a top option off the bench throughout the season and will provide critical minutes.
Other impressive contributions from the victory were Kylan Boswell and Azuolas Tubelis. Boswell had 8 points and dished out five assists in his college debut, while Tubelis returned to his usual self with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Arizona will look to continue the positive momentum as they will welcome Southern University in McKale Center this Friday at 7:00 p.m.
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