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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 4 Arizona MBB face upsetting defeat and redeeming victory over Washington State and Washington

Mason Kumet
Caleb Love celebrates an and-1 foul call after a layup against Washington State in McKale Center on Feb 22. Love hit an impressive four 3-pointers to lead Arizona’s scoring.

The No. 4 Arizona men’s basketball team remained at home this week to host Washington State University and the University of Washington, drawing away both a win and loss. The Wildcats faced Washington State on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. in McKale Center, and suffered a devastating 77-74 defeat to the Cougars. However, the Wildcats found redemption when facing Washington on Saturday, Feb. 24, at noon, where Arizona dominated the game, coming away with a 91-75 victory against the Huskies.

Game 1: Arizona vs. Washington State – Thursday, Feb. 22

In the opening minutes of the first quarter, Arizona scored on back-to-back possessions with two layups by Caleb Love and Oumar Ballo. The 4-0 start didn’t last long when Washington State guard Myles Rice scored off a jumper. As Arizona was leading by a hair, Jaylen Wells from Washington State closed the gap at 9-7 after shooting a 3-pointer to shorten the lead.

The Cougars took control, leading for the next five minutes until Jaden Bradley tied the game at 16 with a layup while Arizona was on a 6-0 run. Arizona suddenly found itself down by 6 points when Wells made a layup to increase the deficit to 24-18.

Love stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer of his own. Shortly after, Love made a free throw to tie the game at 24, but Arizona couldn’t find an answer to take back the lead. Wells shot his third made 3-pointer of the first quarter to try and extend the 29-24 lead that was only separated by a few possessions throughout the game. Pelle Larsson dunked the ball to get within a 1-point score with two minutes remaining in the first half. Soon after, Love hit a 3-pointer to grab the 33-32 lead that didn’t last as the Cougars led Arizona going into halftime, 34-33. Washington State forced eight turnovers on Arizona compared to five of its own. Love led the first half 17 points along with three assists and two steals. Wells led the Cougars with 13 points.

Washington State and Arizona went toe-to-toe when battling over the lead throughout the second half as Reuben Chinyelu started the scoring for the Cougars immediately with a jumper. A layup by Rice created space for Washington State until Arizona took over the score for the next few minutes as Keshad Johnson dunked the ball to extend the lead by four. Kylan Boswell managed the lead by hitting a 3-pointer that was then matched on the other end of the floor by Wells.

Isaac Jones put the Cougars up by 5 points thanks to a jumper and four made free throws. With under eight minutes left in regulation, Love made a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to 57-54. Neither team was able to stabilize the score as possessions were traded back-and-forth.

As the score continued to tie, Wells extended the lead by four with another 3-pointer. Love made a shot of his own from beyond the arc to take the lead of the game by 1-point with under five minutes remaining in the second half. As free throws and fouls were exchanged, Arizona managed to gain a 3-point lead that was erased by Wells in the final moments of the game and capped off with free throws, giving Washington State the 77-74 victory against Arizona.

 This is the first home loss of the season for Arizona.

 Love led the Wildcats with 27 points, five assists and four rebounds. Ballo marked his sixth straight double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Wells finished the night leading Washington State with 27 points as Jones racked on 16 points of his own. Head coach Tommy Lloyd was asked about the short turnaround to Feb. 24 when Arizona faces the University of Washington at noon.

“Our heads are up, I mean, everything we want you know, for this season is still out in front of us. You know, we got to come out and play a really talented team Saturday early and so, let’s go […]. Our guys need to respond and we’re a high character group so, I expect they will,” Lloyd said.

Game 2: Arizona vs. Washington – Saturday, Feb. 24

Larsson scored first for Arizona as both teams were able to knock shots down early on in the quarter. It didn’t take long for Arizona to build a lead and keep it the whole game as Johnson scored on an alleyoop dunk that put Arizona on a 7-0 run leading 11-5. Sahvir Wheeler stopped the Huskies drought with a jumper but was answered by a Love 3-pointer. Wilhelm Breidenbach made a layup to bring the Huskies within 8 points, the closest they would get in the game. Love extended the lead to 16 with his third made 3-pointer in the first quarter when shortly after, Koren Johnson would score his own 3-pointer, trying to tame the 12-point lead.

With under 10 minutes left in the first quarter, Arizona brought its lead up to 21 but was shortened after Washington replied with a 10-0 run, dragging the lead down to 11 with a 3-pointer by Nate Calmese. Motiejus Krivas made a layup to prevent the run from extending, as the first half closed with 3-pointers from Love and Larsson leaving the score at 52-35 going into halftime. Love led the first half with 20 points, three assists and six rebounds as Johnson led the Huskies with 10 points.

Braxton Meah opened the second quarter scoring off a dunk, but it wasn’t long after until Arizona built up its largest lead of the game as Love scored a layup, putting Arizona up by 23 points. Out of a time-out, Calmese hit a 3-pointer, slowly taking down the 61-41 score. Washington started to pile on points when Moses Wood made a 3-pointer, adding onto the 14-2 run Washington went on to cut the lead down to nine with under 10 minutes to go in regulation. After a timeout, Arizona continued to make shots as Johnson went to the line to shoot free throws, putting the Wildcats up by 12. Arizona went back up by 16 points caused by a 3-pointer taken by Larsson in the remaining two minutes. Johnson scored on an exclamation dunk that would excite the crowd in McKale Center but would also earn the Arizona bench a technical foul. Love hit his 2,000 career point after hitting a 3-pointer to put the Wildcats up by 17.

Ultimately, Washington was never able to come back from the lead Arizona built early on as the Wildcats were able to secure the 91-75 victory over the Huskies. Love finished leading with 28 points, five assists and seven rebounds. Ballo marked his seventh straight double-double, scoring 14 points and 14 rebounds. Johnson led the Huskies with 17 points, five assists and six rebounds to add to his four turnovers.

“I mean I told our guys, I mean, this game is going to come down to you know, the character of our program and you know, we go to come and we got to show our character and we got to respond […]. We have high character people and we have a great culture and so I think that shined through today, especially early in the game,” said Lloyd during the press conference held after the game. 

Looking ahead:

Arizona will be heading on the road to meet against its in-state rival ASU on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. in Desert Financial Arena, looking for the season sweep against the Sun Devils.

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