TUCSON — Arizona’s fans began chanting “No. 1!” in the closing seconds of another home blowout.
The way the Wildcats have played so far this season, there’s a pretty good chance they’re right.
Caleb Love scored 14 points, Oumar Ballo had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 2 Arizona made a strong statement to move up to No. 1 by overwhelming Colgate 82-55 on Saturday.
“It’s what we want in this program,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I think we’ve got to get comfortable being in this position. We can’t get big heads or make too big a deal of it.”
The Wildcats (7-0) overcame a shaky offensive start by dominating inside and going on a big run to open the second half. Arizona had a 44-14 advantage in the paint, 19 more rebounds and used a 16-2 run to push a five-point halftime lead to 22.
With the win, the Wildcats likely will move to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in a decade after top-ranked Purdue, No. 3 Marquette and No. 4 UConn all lost. Arizona’s fans certainly think they should.
“Honestly, it doesn’t really mean anything,” Ballo said. “It’s not March, it’s not April.”
The Raiders (4-4) managed to hang with Arizona in the first half before being doomed by a shaky offensive start to the second.
Colgate missed nine of its first 10 shots as Arizona pulled away and went 10 of 29 from the floor in the second half. Braeden Smith led the Raiders with 11 points.
“They just keep coming at you,” Colgate coach Matt Langel said. “They’re so physical and their attention to detail on the defensive end was super impressive to me. They work like crazy to make all your shots hard.”
Coming off a six-point win over Michigan State, Arizona gave the Raiders a heavy dose of Love and Ballo.
The 7-foot, 260-pound Ballo bullied his way to the basket, score at the rim and mixed in a couple of one-handed jumpers near the free throw line, scoring 12 points by halftime.
Love scored off the dribble and hit a pair of 3-pointers to record 10 first-half points.
Arizona led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Colgate started hitting shots after struggling early to pull within 35-30 at halftime.
The Wildcats ratcheted up the defensive pressure to start the second half, holding Colgate to one field goal in the first eight minutes while stretching the lead to 55-33.
Even when the Raiders started to make shots, the Wildcats wouldn’t let them creep back into the game, reeling off three straight dunks — two by Keshad Johnson — to stretch the lead to 70-45.
“They’re physical on the perimeter and you can’t run regular offense like we’re used to,” Langel said. “It’s hard to get the ball from side to side and reverse it, so that puts a lot of pressure and wears you out.”