The Wildcats, who improved to 8-0 while the Badgers fell to 7-3, went on a 20-2 run from 8:50 left in the first half to 3:29 to build an 18-point lead. They never looked back.
Tommy Lloyd is in his third year as Arizona basketball's coach. He commended his team after the game and said it might be his best in terms of executing a game plan.
“Wisconsin was the best team that we've played up until this point,” Lloyd said. “It's the way they're built and how they play. They're going to have a great season.
“Our guys were pretty locked in, focused and made it really tough for them.”
Lloyd was asked about his team's passing — it assisted 26 of 35 shots — and how new players adapt to the program.
“We have a way we develop players that we think is beneficial for our team and beneficial for the player,” Lloyd said. “We do some harking back to that, and we're constantly talking about, ‘We need to be a team that enjoys your teammate's success as much as your own.'”
Lloyd said he wants his team to be remembered, even though it has former five-star prospect and coveted North Carolina transfer Caleb Love, former Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Pelle Larsson, coveted four-star guard Kylan Boswell and reigning Pac-12 Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year Oumar Ballo, for kicking “ass.”
“I told our guys today, ‘I don't need any heroes. I don't need anybody to stand out above anybody else.'
“‘But at the end of the day, I want people to say that Arizona basketball team kicked some ass. Team. And that's what we're fighting for.”
Arizona beat the Badgers, which have some bragging rights due to Elite Eight wins in 2013 and 2014.
Arizona's players weren't around for those games — Wisconsin coach Greg Gard joked his players were at recess and sipping milk as eight- and nine-year-olds — but Larsson and Ballo each said the team took today's game personally.
Pelle Larsson and Oumar Ballo both said they know this game meant a lot to Tucson. Had friends and members of the city coming up to them and telling him the history and all that.
— Jason Scheer (@jasonscheer) December 9, 2023
Arizona's difficult non-conference schedule continues versus No. 4 Purdue at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, next Saturday.
The Wildcats against Wisconsin were led by Love, who had 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists.
Larsson had a career-high 21 points and made 6-of-6 shots, including all four of his 3-point attempts. Boswell led the Wildcats with nine of their 26 assists on 35 made shots. Ballo, who faced 7-footer Steven Crowl and will be tasked to guard Boilermakers star Zach Edey next week, had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting, nine rebounds and three blocks.