TUCSON, Arizona — Azuolas Tubelis had 19 points and Bennedict Mathurin added 14 as No. 8 Arizona shook off a slow start to beat Cal Baptist 84-60- on Saturday.
The Wildcats (11-0) continued their best start since opening the 2014-15 season with 12 straight wins, but it wasn’t easy early on. They trailed by 11 less than four minutes into the game and didn’t take their first lead until 9:01 left in the first half.
Tubelis was 7 of 16 from the field after starting 1 of 6, adding seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while Mathurin was 5 of 11 and had three of Arizona’s eight 3-pointers.
Christian Koloko added 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks and Oumar Ballo had 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks as Arizona blocked 12 Cal Baptist shots — 10 in the first half — and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points while the Lancers (8-3) didn’t score on any of their 12 offensive boards.
Arizona extended a seven-point halftime lead to 16 less than 3 minutes into the second half, with 10 of its first 12 points coming from Tubelis. A 3-pointer by Pelle Larsson capped an 8-0 run to put the Wildcats up 61-41 with 12:31 remaining.
Cal Baptist was led by Ty Rowell, who had 11 points and was 3 for 3 from 3-point range, while freshman guard Taran Armstrong — who came in leading Division I in assists at 8.3 per game — finished with nine points, three assists and four turnovers.
The Lancers hit their first six shots including five 3-pointers to build an 18-7 lead with 16:14 left in the first half. But they missed 19 of their next 21 shots, clanking 13 in a row during a 14-0 Arizona run to put the Wildcats up 26-22 with 7:29 to go before halftime.
Arizona outscored Cal Baptist 28-11 over the final 8:37 of the first half to lead 40-33 at the break.
Cal Baptist: The Lancers are in the fourth year of a five-year transition from Division II to Division I and won’t be eligible for the Western Athletic Conference or NCAA tournaments until 2022-23. They are now 0-5 all-time against power-conference programs, including a loss earlier this season at Texas.
Arizona: The Wildcats are about to begin a four-game road trip, their longest since 2008. Arizona doesn’t play again at McKale Center until Jan. 13 when it hosts Colorado for its Pac-12 Conference home opener.
Cal Baptist: Hosts Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday in its final non-conference game before starting WAC play.
Arizona: At No. 18 Tennessee on Wednesday.