Arizona flexes muscles against Creighton

Early season tournaments frequently presents some of the best games of the traditional non-conference portion of the calendar.

Arizona has been a forgotten team in the Final Four conversation but that won’t be the case anymore.

The Wildcats beat two ranked opponents including Big East favorite Creighton, en route to capturing the Maui Invitational.

The 81-79 win put the strength of Tommy Lloyd’s squad on full display. Dominate the paint with bigs that are more than willing to run the floor. It was the 2022 version of a 1980s concept.

Oumar Ballo dominated Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner with 30 points and 13 rebounds. As a team, Arizona scored 48 points in the paint. Only 16 of the Wildcats’ 68 shot attempts were threes.

Fast pace and big men was the formula for a lot of Dean Smith wins. As the three-pointer has become prevalent on all levels starting at middle school, you’re seeing teams give a modern twist on an old concept.

That doesn’t mean teams like Arizona, and even Gonzaga, don’t want to shoot threes. It means that there is an emphasis on attacking a retreating and/or rotating defense on early post ups.

You want a more modern example. Think Tyler Hansbrough at North Carolina. Run the floor and get an early post and go to work.

What we could be seeing is a market correction. College Basketball, and the NBA for that matter, had gone too three-point happy. It’s taking time but the numbers are showing that there can be balance and based on your team, you have to find that balance.

Lloyd has found the balance. The next challenge will be when teams adjust, will the Wildcats have the answer. In 2009, North Carolina did. That might be the best place to start for Lloyd’s club.

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