Arizona Basketball

Arizona returns to form: defense, offense and everything else

It turned out to be a laugher … on and off the court.

It came at the expense of Colorado in McKale Center. Arizona roughed up – and ran past – the Buffaloes 97-50 in front of a packed crowd that included comedians Adam Sandler and Frank Caliendo.

The knee-slapper was much needed after Sunday’s hard-to-watch loss to Stanford.

It looked like old times – well, at least before Arizona took on what coach Tommy Lloyd called a “gauntlet” of a schedule where Arizona lost three of the last five games.

Thursday night – in front of an ESPN audience – Arizona righted the ship in the route. It was like old times, in more ways than one.

In fact, Lloyd went to a line he used often the last two years when something surprised him about his team: “I didn’t expect that.”

Perhaps hoped for, but it was likely beyond anything he had imagined given the spread. It was the largest margin of victory for Arizona since 1997.

“There’s no plus/minus in this deal,” Lloyd said. “We won a conference game at home that we should win. Stanford got our attention and our guys responded, but it (won’t) mean a lot if we don’t respond again on Saturday.”

Utah visits McKale at 6 p.m. In the meantime, Arizona is now 11-3 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12 Conference.

But first they’ll enjoy the response from Sunday. They returned to form, running and stunning their way to a big win.

They hit shots, got rebounds, played defense … et, al.

“Hey, look at some of the shots we made tonight, banking in threes and things like that,” Lloyd said. “That happens. We were on the other side of that a few days ago and luckily today we flipped it.”

And sophomore Kylan Boswell looked like his old – even for an 18-year-old – self, again.

“I thought Kylan played well,” Lloyd said. Guys, Kylan is 18. Have some grace. Give him some space, give him some time. Let him develop. That’s what we’re doing. He played really well today, and hopefully he can continue to build on it. But by no means is he a finished product.”

Fair enough, but his play was noticeable. He hadn’t been the Boswell we had been used to seeing … then came Thursday.

He finished with 14 points, 12 of which came from the 3-point line. He hit his first three 3s. He had four assists and three steals.

“He started great,” said Pelle Larsson, who had a team-high 18 points. “You can’t expect the guy to shoot 60 percent the whole season. The ball goes in sometimes, sometimes not. You just got to find the balance of feeding our big guys and getting your own shots.”

Larsson benefited from one of the game’s best plays, a ¾ quart court, left-handed fastbreak pass from Boswell in what typified the night: a runaway.

“I’m just trying to make sure he doesn’t get a turnover,” Larsson said. “If he throws it, I’ll go get it. He does amazing things like that pretty often. He’s a great guy and great player. I just run and he’ll probably find me.”

Just as Arizona its groove back. Maybe Sunday was a one off. Maybe it wasn’t. But for a night, Arizona looked like a top-ranked team. Four players scored in double figures with Caleb Love having 16 points. Motiejus Krivas had 15 points.

Arizona had 19 assists, nearly half of its 40 made baskets in what was an efficient night. UA shot 56.3 percent, including 55 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

“It felt really good. I feel like everyone had great energy,” Larsson said. “Every time we play in McKale you get so much energy from our fans and our crowd. It’s really, really hard to not come out as excited as we were.”

Arizona hit early – and often. It jumped out to a good, quick lead and never – ever – looked back after the 23-6 lead. The offense fueled the defense, and the defense rallied the offense.

On Sunday, the defense was never really there.

“I always want to play complimentary basketball, and I think your defense has to complement your offense and your offense has to complement your defense,” Lloyd said. “Anytime you’re playing really good defense, it can help drive your offense. There’s no doubt about that. If you’re playing with great force on the defensive end, rebounding and getting in transition, that’s usually a good formula.”

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