Wildcats fans react to Arizona avoiding a first-round upset against Long Beach State

Tommy Lloyd has had three great regular seasons at Arizona but has yet to take the Wildcats deep into the tournament. On Thursday, he took the first step with a Round of 64 win over Long Beach State.

Arizona Wildcats guard Kylan Boswell (4) shoots the ball
Arizona Wildcats guard Kylan Boswell (4) shoots the ball / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

In three seasons under Tommy Lloyd, the Arizona Wildcats have once been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and twice been seeded on the two line, including this year as the No. 2 seed in the West Region. Yet, Lloyd hasn’t made it past the Sweet 16, and last season his team was upset in the first round by No. 15 seed Princeton. Even after a slow start, Lloyd’s team didn’t succumb to the pressure of the big dance. 

The Wildcats only entered halftime up 41-35, an atypical start for two very fast-paced teams. However, in the second half, Arizona put its foot on the gas, outsourcing Long Beach State by 14 for an 85-65 win. The start to the second half was so good that Arizona only scored three points in the final 4:40 seconds of the game, and it was never in doubt. 

Arizona fans felt a sense of relief that their team and its third-year head coach were able to escape the first round without much sweat. 

Kylan Boswell led the way for the Wildcats with 20 points, and Caleb Love added 18, despite shooting 3-12 from three. 

Lloyd knocked off Dan Monson, who was actually fired at Long Beach State before going on a run through the Big West conference to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Monson actually hired Lloyd as a graduate assistant when he was the head coach of Gonzaga before leaving for Minnesota. Lloyd emerged as one of Mark Few’s top assistants and has a better chance to win a national title in 2024 than either of his former bosses. 

Now, Arizona will advance to face either Dayton or Nevada in the Round of 32.