After the Arizona men's basketball team beat the University of Cincinnati by eight points in the first round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, while playing their best overall game of the season, it might be hard to think they could play better. But they did in Tuesday's semi-final game against San Diego State University.
No.14 Arizona beat No.17 SDSU 87-70 to advance to the championship of this prestigious tournament for the first time since the 2014 season when they won it last.
Courtney Ramey had 21 points and six rebounds on a perfect 5-5 performance from 3-point land. Ramey is the first Arizona player to be at least 5-5 from deep since Kevin Parrom did it in 2012. He has only played two games for the Wildcats this season but is making an immediate impact. Ramey is 8 for 10 throughout those two games on 3-point shots.
After only scoring 11 points against Cincinnati on Monday, Kerr Kriisa bounced back in a big way with a 21-point performance to go along with five assists and four rebounds. The first half did not go Kriisa's way after only scoring three points while turning the ball over three times but had 18 points in the second half along with two big 3-pointers.
Arizona as a team finished the game 59% (34-58) from the field, 45% (9-20) on 3-point shots and 71% (10-14) from the free throw line. The Wildcats only turned the ball over 10 times against the Bearcats and almost doubled that number to 19 versus the Aztecs.
Even in a dominant victory, not everything went Arizona's way. In the second half, a few players including Ramey, Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo all were in foul trouble. Ballo fouled out of the game while Ramey and Tubelis each finished the contest with four fouls.
Five Wildcats scored in double figures for the third straight game. Ballo still affected the game in a positive way, scoring 12 points along with nine rebounds and two steals. Tubelis scored 14 points with seven rebounds on a terrific 6-8 shooting from the field while blocking two shots.
Arizona for the second straight game will see their toughest test of the season so far. They will face the No.10 Creighton University at 3 p.m. MST on ESPN in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational championship. This is only the third meeting between the two schools with the matchup tied at 1-1.
Creighton has a dynamic offense that this Wildcat team has not seen before. This win would likely put Arizona in the top 10 in the country moving forward.
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