This probably isn’t sustainable, but every time something goes wrong in Arizona with one of its starters, at least one guy comes off the couch, ready to fill the void.
Oumar Ballo had a career-high 21 points and Pelle Larsson 13 added with six assists, stepping in for an injured Azuolas Tubelis and an error prone one Christian Koloko to lead the third-ranked Wildcats to an 85-57 win over Stanford on Thursday night.
Ballo, a Gonzaga transfer who averaged 5.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in just 12.9 minutes per game, was 7 of 8 from the field and 7 of 9 from the line and also had six rebounds and two blocks. Larsson was 5 out of 8 on the field and Justin Kier added 11 on 5-of-6 shooting as the UA bench scored better than Stanford’s 45-26.
Arizona (15-1, 5-0 Pac-12) got Kerr Kriisa returned after missing the game in Utah after an unfortunate pre-game meal, but the Wildcats had to play most of Thursday without their other Baltic star as Tubelis suffered a left ankle injury less than seven minutes into the game and did not return.
Tubelis, who hit a career-high 32 against Utah, had 4 points and 2 rebounds before taking off. He spent the rest of the first half with ice on his left ankle and came out after the break with a shoe on the left foot.
Add to that the fact that Koloko only played 2 minutes in the first half and picked up his third mistake 38 seconds in the second half and Ballo became the only frontcourt player available. Arizona was so thin it played long minutes in the first half without a player taller than six feet Dale Terry on the road.
It didn’t matter who was on the field, though, as Arizona shot 55.4 for 17 turnovers, including eight in a tie, while Stanford (10-6, 3-3) shot just 30 percent.
The Wildcats had five players in double digits, with Benedict Mathurin topped the starters with 13 (all in the first 12 minutes of the game) and Terry went for 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
The UA led 42-31 at halftime after leading by no less than 18 in the first half. It took the lead to 20 in under four minutes in the second half, and Stanford never got closer than 18 after that.
Stanford turned it around five times in the first 3-plus minutes, including charges drawn by Kriisa and Terry, allowing Arizona to jump to a 12-2 lead. Larsson hit a three-pointer to extend the margin to 30-16 with 7:52 left, and his 2:32 layup gave the Wildcats a 40-22 lead.
The Cardinal’s best strike in the first half was the 3, making 6 out of 12, including three by Spencer Jones. They were 1 of 11 of 3 in the second half.
Arizona continues its 3-game road swing on Sunday afternoon visiting Cal (9-9, 2-5). The Wildcats have beaten the Golden Bears nine times in a row, the last six by an average of 17.8 points.