No. 2 Arizona escapes No. 15 LBSU in March Madness Round of 64 with second-half masterclass

Mar 21, 2024; Salt Lake City, UT, USA;  Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd celebrates with
Mar 21, 2024; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd celebrates with / Gabriel Mayberry-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a long two years since Arizona's last NCAA Tournament win in the Round of 32 against No. 9 TCU on March 20, 2022. Sandwiched in between were a crushing Sweet Sixteen loss to a rising Houston team and a stunning first-round exit against No. 15 seed Princeton. The streak of March Madness losses has come to an end in the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

No. 2 Arizona Basketball knocked off No. 15 Long Beach State by 20 points and secured an 85-65 win to move on to the next round. The Round of 32 game will also be played in Salt Lake City against the winner of today's No. 10 Nevada vs. No. 7 Dayton game. The game was truly a tale of two halves, where the 'Cats looked atrocious in the first half before stepping on the gas in the second.

First half

It was a strange game from the tip that was scoreless for the first 1:39. Arizona started off by cashing in on four consecutive 3-pointers before plateauing at 17 points for over five minutes of game time. During this cold streak, the Beach scored 13 points and pulled ahead 22-17. Arizona and Long Beach State continued to battle for the lead for the next five and a half minutes until the game was finally knotted up at 35-35 with 2:14 remaining in the first half.

Caleb Love proceeded to nail a 3-pointer after being cold the entire half and Pelle Larsson made a layup after not being able to hit the broad side of a barn door with the basketball. Combined with a renewed defensive effort, Arizona went into halftime with a 6-point, 41-35 lead.

Second half

The Wildcats came out of halftime having made the necessary adjustments, and they played with their hair on fire. Arizona continued to extend its lead and went on an impressive 15-0 run over five minutes of game time across two halves. By the time the 'Cats were done laying into the Beach, they were up 50-35 and never led by less than 15 for the entire rest of the game.

Keshad Johnson was the galvanizing force in the second half, scoring the first 7 points of the half for Arizona. His postseason experience is showing, and he finished the day with 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Although he finished the day 3-12 from range, Love eventually found his footing too and the few shots he did make came at very opportune times. He finished the day with a sneaky double-double, logging 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Boswell bounceback

No player was more important to today's win than Kylan Boswell, though. Boswell has had a nightmarish three-game stretch where he only scored 11 points, and he firmly put that streak to bed with today's performance. His 20 points and eight assists were a game-high, and he added two steals and a block to the stat sheet too.

He deserves a lot of credit; Boswell was dynamite today and was the only consistently solid player for the full game. He had a lot to prove coming into this game, and he has positioned himself to go on a postseason run that will put any rumblings to bed about his future as Arizona's starting point guard.

More March Madness


ICYMI. WBBMM. Arizona vs. Auburn NCAA Tournament First Four: How to watch, odds and predictions for March Madness. dark

Don’t forget to follow us at @ZonaZealots on Twitter, follow us at @ZonaZealotsFS on Instagram, and like our fan page on Facebook for continued coverage of Arizona news, opinions, and recruiting updates!