No. 1 Arizona looks comfortable in top spot, rolls past No. 23 Wisconsin 98-73

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Pelle Larsson nailed his third 3-pointer of the first half, Caleb Love followed with a steal and a thunderous fastbreak slam, then Oumar Ballo capped the spectacular stretch with an alley-oop dunk.

The outburst took a scant 55 seconds. Top-ranked Arizona can flip a game in a hurry.

Larsson scored a career-high 21 points, Love added 20, and the No. 1 Wildcats rolled to a 98-73 win over No. 23 Wisconsin on Saturday.

“We kept our energy,” Larsson said. “I feel like when you play us, you've got to have your energy the whole game. As soon as you relax, we're going to keep going.”

The Wildcats — playing as the top team in the country for the first time in nine years — looked comfortable in their new role, using a 25-8 run to end the first half and take a 17-point halftime lead.

“It felt like 50-2,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.

Larsson finished 6 of 6 shooting from the field, including 4 of 4 on 3-pointers. The Wildcats (8-0) shot 58% from the field.

It was tight game for the first 10 minutes, and the score was tied at 23-all with 8:50 left in the first half before a stretch of overwhelming offense from the Wildcats gave them a 48-31 advantage at the break.

“The snowball happened, it kept getting bigger and bigger, and it was hard for us to get it under control,” Gard said. “We'll learn a lot from this as we go through the tape. I didn't think we were as good defensively as we have been, but that's in large part due to Arizona.”

The Badgers (7-3) came into the game on a six-game winning streak, including a win over then-No. 3 Marquette.

John Blackwell led Wisconsin with 17 points. Steven Crowl added 11 points and AJ Storr had 10.

Arizona hasn’t been No. 1 in the AP Top 25 since an eight-week stint that ended in January 2014 under former coach Sean Miller. Current coach Tommy Lloyd is in his third season after a long run as an assistant at Gonzaga, and his first two teams each spent multiple weeks inside the top five.

It was Arizona's biggest margin of victory against a nationally ranked opponent since beating Western Kentucky by 39 in 2002.

“Our guys were pretty locked in, focused and made it really tough on them,” Lloyd said. “All in all, really happy with our performance.”

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: The Badgers hung with the Wildcats for a little while, but simply ran into a buzzsaw. Wisconsin should learn from the hostile road environment and there's no reason it can't be a significant factor in the Big Ten race.

Arizona: Lloyd said last week that his team needed to embrace the high expectations of being a No. 1 team. Mission accomplished. The Badgers gave the Wildcats some fight early, but Arizona's late first-half run is a sign that this could be a team that stays in the top spot for a while. A big game awaits against Purdue next weekend.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Host Jacksonville State on Thursday.

Arizona: Faces No. 4 Purdue next Saturday in Indianapolis.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball