The #14 Arizona Wildcats are off to a hot start this season at 6-0. The team is coming off a stellar year, which was the first for coach Tommy Lloyd. Many wondered what the team would look like after losing three starters to the NBA draft, but they have proven that they are up to the challenge this season.
The Wildcats were one of the favorites to win the NCAA Championship last year, led by Bennedict Mathurin, a potential NBA ROY candidate this year. Losing Mathurin, along with Dalen Terry and Christian Koloko, was a huge blow for the team, but coach Lloyd has been able to fill that void with talented players and a few key returns.
The Maui Invitational
The Maui Invitational is one of the biggest tournaments on the college basketball schedule every year. It features some of the biggest teams in the country as well as some of the top prospects for the upcoming draft. Winning the invitational is usually a good sign that the team is playing well going into the conference season. This year, the Wildcats were the big winners in the tournament, sweeping their three games and finishing 3-0 at the top of the standings.
Arizona Wildcats Vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
In their first solid test of the season, the Wildcats defeated the Bearcats 101-93. The Wildcats controlled the game for the whole way behind big-men Ąžuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo, who scored 30 and 21, respectively. The Wildcats also got a big gaame out of Courtney Ramey, a transfer guard who scored 17 in his debut with the team after serving a three-game suspension.
Arizona Wildcats Vs. San Diego State Aztecs
Their second game of the tournament was against the Aztecs from San Diego State. The Aztecs were the first-ranked opponent the Wildcats came to play against and were definitely the biggest challenge they had faced. The team passed the test with flying colors, winning the game 87-70. Arizona held the Aztecs to 16%, shooting from deep and 38% overall. Arizona’s guards, Courtney Ramey and Kerr Kriisa, each contributed 21 points, leading the team to victory.
Arizona Wildcats Vs. Creighton Bluejays
The tournament final pitted the #14 Wildcats against the #10 Bluejays from Creighton University. Both teams were coming in undefeated, so it was an exciting match. The Wildcats took control early, utilizing their size on the inside to control the paint. Oumar Ballo finished with a career-high 30 points and added 13 rebounds, leading the team in both categories. The Bluejays rallied in the second half, but were unable to get the lead. They came up just short, losing by a final score of 81-79.
What’s Next For the Wildcats?
This was their eighth appearance in the tournament, with this being their third title. The team last won it in 2014-2015 and in the 2001-2002 season prior to that. All-in-all, it was a great tournament for the team, and they now look forward to conference play next month. They will likely break into the top ten next week, once the full rankings are published.
Last year, the Wildcats won the Pac-12 outright, taking the regular season and tournament title. They’re in a good position to repeat as champions this year as well. While not as talented as last year, they’re still a strong team with excellent talent across the board.
Get the latest sports news via Fantom Sports Industries. Follow us on Twitter via @Fantom_sports. Like us on Facebook via Fantom Sports Industries. Subscribe to our YouTube channel via Fantom Sports. Subscribe to our Newsletter! Shop Fantom Sports Industries Merch.
Invest in your favorite athletes like stocks with “Prediction Strike!” Use code FANTOM when you sign up