Tommy LLoyd: ‘I love this team’

Oh, the comforts of being at home.

There’s the nice, energetic crowd, the streak that hasn’t been beaten since Tommy Lloyd was about 10 years old and a team playing like it has the warm and fuzzies back.

It all – and more – added up to a 92-73 runaway Arizona victory over Utah in McKale Center.

All seemed to be right again for the Wildcats, who have now won two big games by large margins against schools that seemingly posed as a big threat to winning the Pac-12 Conference.

Arizona coach Tommy LLoyd yells out concerns to the ref. (photo by Stephanie van Latum)

“I love this team,” said Lloyd, when asked for an assessment of it nearly halfway through the season. “I love where we are at but like anybody else, we’re scratching and clawing to have a great season. WE got to stay on point … I’m excited to see where we go.”

If Thursday and Saturday nights were any indication, it could be good.

Arizona showed its dominance on Thursday in a 47-point win against Colorado and now the 19-point victory. UA is now 12-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference.

Looked like old times or at least how Arizona looked before it went on its aggressive schedule where it lost three of five.

“It’s our defense,” said Pelle Larsson, as the reason for UA playing so well. “Whenever we play good defense, good things happen. And again, back to being more aggressive and going after the defense.”

The first half wasn’t exactly like that, given UA was up 42-39 and had just shot a very good 61 percent. But again, Arizona struggled – a bit – defending the 3-point line, giving up seven 3si 18 attempts.

Then came the second half when shot 17 but only hit three. Utah eventually shot just 37 percent overall.

“They’re something to guard,” Lloyd said. “They’re smart, they’re calculated. They have some matchups that make you make decisions … We kind of got a little bit of a lead on them, made a little run and they kind of tilted their offense to kind of more perimeter and I thought our guys did a good job of adjusting.”

Caleb Love looks to score (photo by Stephanie van Latum)

It helped that Caleb Love got hot – real hot. There was a stretch there where he hit four consecutive baskets – and took a fifth but missed – and Arizona was off and running stretching its lead 17. Not included in that was a high-flying dunk by Love.

“I was proud of Caleb,” Lloyd said. “Caleb, as we know, can get on a heater for a minute. I told him, ‘hey, take a breath, you kind of got us a little separation now let us bring it home. Twenty-three (points) is good enough. Like I told him going into last game, ‘I’ll take 15 points and great defense. He’s likely grown in that. He’s a game changer.”


Oumar Ballo said, “he’s a great guy and a guy you can rely on to get the job done.”
Love was the guy who got them there but – again – it was a collective effort as UA looked like early looked in early-season form. Five starters scored in double figures (the first time that’s happened since the Alabama game).

Keshad Johnson scored 20 points, Ballo had 17 points (six rebounds), Larsson had 13 points and Kylan Boswell had 13 points.

All the stars aligned.

More specifically for two players, given Larsson and Ballo each scored their 1,000th career points on the same night just minutes apart.

Larsson’s came on an alley-oop dunk from Love and Ballo’s came on a dunk, too.

Larsson said he didn’t realize he was that close to the number until his mom texted him after Tuesday’s game.

Each said they were happy for the other,

“Goes by quick,” Larssons said. “You don’t really pay attention to this kind of stuff, it just happens. I’m happy for O (Oumar).”

When asked if it was fitting if it came against his former school (Utah), Larsson smiled and said.

“I guess it’s full circle, if you want to write that,” he said.

So, we will.

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