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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 2 Arizona cruises past No. 15 seed Long Beach State in first round of NCAA Tournament

Mason Kumet
Kylan Boswell points to the bench after scoring a basket in the first half of Arizona’s conference game against USC on Jan. 17 in McKale Center.

In Thursday’s first round of the NCAA Tournament, the No. 2 seed Arizona men’s basketball team secured a convincing 85-65 victory over No. 15 seed California State University, Long Beach, in the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A scoring run of 16 straight points propelled the Wildcats (26-8) ahead of Long Beach State in the second half, helping Arizona pull away and secure the 20-point opening-round victory.

All five of the Wildcats’ starters finished with double figures in scoring, with Kylan Boswell leading the way with a career-high 20 points. Arizona also set a March Madness program record by making 13 3-pointers.

The Wildcats’ 20-point victory certainly comes as a relief for Arizona fans, especially after its disappointing early exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament against No. 15 seed Princeton University.

Arizona may have won its opening-round matchup, but it was certainly not a walk in the park. Despite initially taking a 17-9 lead with four of their first six shots from behind the arc, the Wildcats found themselves trailing 22-17 by the midway point of the first half after Long Beach State went on a 13-0 run.

During Long Beach State’s scoring stretch, the Wildcats could not get any shots to fall, especially from inside the paint. Arizona was 0-10 from the field, with over half of its misses coming from inside the paint.

Trailing 35-34 late in the first half, the Wildcats settled down and found their rhythm, breaking out a 7-0 scoring run to take a 41-35 lead into the half.

Arizona’s scoring onslaught continued into the second half, as the Wildcats exited the break outscoring Long Beach State 21-6 through the first 6 minutes to push its lead to 21 points. Long Beach State had no answers for Arizona in the second half, as the Wildcats cruised to the 20-point victory.

The Wildcats finished the afternoon going 30-72 (42%) from the field, while Long Beach State was 24-72 (33%). Arizona’s March Madness program record of 13 3-pointers proved the ultimate decider, as Long Beach State converted on only three of its 17 shot attempts from beyond the arc.

Although the Wildcats are known for their dominance in the paint, they were surprisingly outplayed by Long Beach State in both scoring and rebounding. Long Beach State outscored Arizona 38-32 in the paint and outrebounded the Wildcats 50-47. Yet neither statistic factored into the end result, as Arizona still collected the victory

In addition to leading the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points, Boswell dished a team-high eight assists, capping off his standout opening-round performance. Meanwhile, Caleb Love bounced back after a trio of poor performances, finishing the afternoon with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 boards. In addition, Pelle Larsson contributed 15 points and five assists, Keshad Johnson added 13 points and Oumar Ballo captured another double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

The Wildcats’ impressive opening-round win secured their spot in the second round of the West Region set for Saturday, March 23. The Wildcats will face either No. 7 University of Dayton or the No. 10 seed University of Nevada.

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