TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)—The bigger, quicker Arizona Wildcats wasted little time in putting away Samford on Wednesday night.
The visiting Bulldogs’ preference for a slowdown style was left in the dust of an 86-57 blowout.
Marcus Williams scored 14 points and Chase Budinger added 12 to help Arizona open a 46-18 halftime lead.
“It was a total collapse defensively in the first half,” Samford coach Jimmy Tillette said. “They drove right past us. We looked a little dazed.”
All five starters reached double figures for the Wildcats (3-1). Williams, Budinger and Mustafa Shakur each finished with 14 points, Jawann McClellan had 12 and Ivan Radenovic added 10.
Four Arizona players had at least eight rebounds, led by Radenovic and McClellan with nine apiece, as the Wildcats dominated the boards 47-21.
“The rebounding for me is really important,” said coach Lute Olson, who employed two zones and a man-to-man defense against Samford in the first half.
Shakur had six assists and no turnovers.
Randall Gulina led Samford (1-3) with 21 points, finishing 5-of-10 from 3-point range—4-of-5 in the second half. Jerry Smith added 13 points and Travis Peterson 10.
The Wildcats overwhelmed the Bulldogs early.
McClellan’s tip-in put Arizona up 20-6. A 16-0 outburst boosted the lead to 44-16 on Radenovic’s inside basket with 1:19 to go in the half.
Williams, a sophomore, shot 7-for-9 in the first half and Budinger, a freshman, made 6-of-7 before the break. They also had seven rebounds apiece at halftime, when Arizona dominated the boards 27-10.
The Wildcats’ defense, shaky in the first three games, took a step forward.
“We’re getting there,” Olson said. “I thought we did a better job of scrambling to the open man.”
The Bulldogs, who lost at No. 1 Florida 79-54 on Nov. 10, shot 21 percent in the first half (6-for-29)—4-for-23 from 3-point range.
Samford finished 14-for-43 on 3-pointers. It was the most 3-pointers shot against Arizona in school history and one shy of the Bulldogs’ school record.
“They were kind of short,” Williams said. “I don’t know how much they wanted to drive down the basket.”
The Bulldogs’ shooting improved in the second half, but they never got closer than 22.
“We are a high-scoring team,” Williams said. “So we have to get out and score a bunch of points early and force other teams to play our tempo.”
Samford, with four starters back from last season’s 20-11 team, was picked by the league’s media to win the Ohio Valley Conference title.
Reserve point guard J.P. Prince was not in uniform and not on the bench for the Wildcats. Olson explained Prince’s absence as “a personal matter.”
Asked if Prince, a sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., would return, Olson said, “I don’t know. It’s a personal matter and that’s all I’m going to say.”
Prince is a cousin of Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons.
Freshman Nic Wise played behind Shakur at point guard, finishing with nine points.