The Arizona Wildcats got their revenge tonight, and had some fun doing it.
In a 87-59 win over Cal at McKale Center, the Wildcats smothered the same Bears team that had handed them their first loss of the season on Feb. 1 at Berkeley, Calif.
UA forced 14 Cal turnovers, outrebounded the Bears by 15 and dunked their way to an easy win, pulling away for good over the final 10 minutes after Cal had cut UA's lead to just eight points.
Nick Johnson, who went 1 for 14 from the field at Cal on Feb. 1, led the Wildcats with 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Kaleb Tarcewski added 16 while T.J. McConnell had 13 points and six assists.
The win moved Arizona to 26-2 overall and 13-2 in the Pac-12, with a chance to at least clinch a tie for the Pac-12 title on Sunday against Stanford. Cal, which dropped to 18-10 and 9-6, had beaten Arizona 60-58 on Feb. 1, when UA forward Brandon Ashley was lost for the season with a foot injury after two minutes of play.
UA took a 44-29 halftime lead but Cal went on an 11-0 run to get back in the game early in the second half. The Bears cut it to 55-47 when Tyrone Wallace hit a three-pointer with 12:23 left.
But then the Wildcats rattled off yet another run, this time 15-5, to take a 70-52 lead with 7;14 left, when the Bears' emotions overflowed. Cal was assessed two technical fouls, one on Cal guard Justin Cobbs after he jawed with officials and another on the Bears' coaching staff.
Johnson hit 3 of 4 ensuing free throws and the Wildcats led 73-52 at that point, cruising for the rest of the game.
Things were going so well for the Wildcats during their second-half run that even when there were problems, it all worked out: Johnson had a dunk attempt bounce high off the rim – but the bounce landed in the hands of Gabe York, who then fed it to T.J. McConnell for a jumper.
After that, Aaron Gordon dunked and it was 70-52 before Cal picked up the technical.
In the first half, Arizona forced nine Cal turnovers and had some fun with them, taking a splashy 44-29 halftime lead.
The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field and held Cal to just 2 of 8 three pointers while scoring seven points off the Bears’ turnovers. UA also had 10 offensive rebounds, leading to five second-chance points.
Johnson led UA in first half shooting with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
UA’s furious defense fueled a 10 straight points late in the first half while the Wildcats completed a 26-7 run to take a 39-23 lead.
Johnson provided the electricity for that blast, blocking a Cal shot that led to a dunk from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, while Hollis-Jefferson came back on the Bears’ next possession and blocked a shot. He then was fouled on the other end of the court and made two free throws for UA’s 39-23 lead.
Aaron Gordon highlighted an 8-0 UA run during the middle of the first half, stepping in front of a Cal pass and taking it all the way downcourt with a grin on his face, then dunking it in backward.
That showy score gave UA a 21-14 lead and after Jordan Mathews hit a three pointer for Cal, the Wildcats kept it rolling with a jumper from Johnson and a three from Gabe York to go up 27-19.
Cal blocked to UA shots and made 4 of 6 shots in the first four minutes to take an early 8-4 lead. Richard Solomon scored twice inside, once on a dunk from an alley-oop pass by David Kravish and once with a layup.