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No. 4 Arizona Caps off Jerry Colangelo Hall of Fame Classic with 87-74 Victory over Alabama

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcat faithful turned Footprint Center into “McKale North” to close out the four-game Jerry Colangelo Hall of Fame Classic with an 87-74 victory over Alabama.

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Following a very quiet game from the fans in ASU’s 65-46 blowout loss to Northwestern, Arizona fans were even louder than Suns fans in their home arena.

“This was a home game for us,” Arizona center Oumar Ballo said. “Wherever we play, Arizona fans show up. And today, they showed up, and they helped us a lot. Seeing them on their feet, cheering for us, it means a lot for us, and for the program, so we’re nothing but grateful for them for coming out tonight to support us.”

Arizona’s defense fed off the crowd’s energy and ended up being the deciding factor in this game. The Wildcats’ 13 steals on the night allowed them to get into their transition game late in the game and blow it open. No. 4 Arizona improved to 9-1, while Alabama fell to 6-5.

Kylan Boswell led the Wildcats with five steals to go along with 15 points and six rebounds. K.J. Lewis and Pelle Larsson had three steals apiece.

“They obviously have a really good offense, but we have a really good defense,” Larsson, who finished with 16 points, said. “And we got guys that can guard one on one. So, we just have to trust that and not over help, and then we got some good stops and some good steals.”

Arizona didn’t look to be the No. 4 team in the country early, as Alabama went on a 9-0 run out of the gates, featuring seven offensive rebounds in a five-minute span.

The Wildcats were able to shake off a rough start to the night and led 41-40 at the half as Alabama shot 3-of-22 from three-point range. Ballo had 11 points and seven rebounds at the break, as three other Wildcats had seven points apiece.

The second half started eerily similar to the first, as Alabama went on a 10-0 run after Arizona scored the first two points of the half to make it 50-43. The Wildcats opened the half shooting 1-for-7 from the floor.

Then, the familiar second-half dominance from Arizona started to show up with a 7-1 run in response. It began by getting out and running off turnovers, and the game was 51-50 with 13:15 to go.

The Crimson Tide responded with three points, but Arizona followed these points with a 14-0 run, forcing a turnover on seemingly every Alabama possession to make it 64-54 with 8:14 left.

The game was pretty back and forth with a lot of fouls being called on both sides for the next stretch. At the end of the night, both teams combined for 45 fouls.

A personal 6-0 run by Caleb Love, who only had three field goals on the night (13 points total), with just under three minutes to go closed the door for Arizona.

“I’m really proud of our response,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “In any season, any game, it’s not just a constant uptick. I mean, there’s ups and downs, and you got to be able to weather those, you got to be able to ride them out, you got to be able to change the course. And our guys did an incredible job.”

“The style we play, it can be a little crazy at times. But I think that’s good. I think that allows us in these games to stay comfortable over the course of the game. it’s hard to maybe take us out of what we want to do because if you take that away, we’ll just flow into the next thing pretty easily. We work at it every day and for the guys to come out and answer the bell numerous times, it’s pretty impressive.”

As has been the case several times this season, Arizona got contributions from every player that registered heavy minutes.

All five of its starters scored in double figures, while Lewis (nine points, four rebounds) and Jaden Bradley (four points) excelled on both sides of the ball off the bench.

This game did not disappoint as the headlining matchup during a historic day in which all four of the Arizona and Arizona State men’s and women’s basketball teams played in the same place on the same day for the first time ever.

Lloyd talked extensively about how important this game was for the Wildcats’ Phoenix fanbase.

“It was great coming up here to Phoenix,” Lloyd saidd. “This is kind of a vision of mine, we’ve been talking about this a lot … This is something I would like to do, and I would really like to grow. My dream is if the Arizona Wildcats are playing in Phoenix that this arena’s sold out, and I don’t think we’re far off from that. Maybe if we can make it an annual deal, I mean, no guarantees, but if we could make a little bit of a tradition of it, I think it’d be pretty special.”

“Arizona basketball’s something that we should celebrate and the state of Arizona should celebrate. To be able to kind of share it up here in our with our biggest alumni base was pretty cool.”

Sun Devils Get Destroyed by Northwestern 65-46 in Footprint Center Showcase

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau


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