Arizona Basketball

NOTES: On Boswell, Arizona’s senior scoring onslaught, Lofton, Pastner & more

Kylan Boswell appears to be coming on strong at the right time with the season winding down (Arizona Athletics photo)

Kylan Boswell scored a career-high 19 points, all in the first half, and that was less of a scoring production than three other Arizona players who are seniors who celebrated Senior Day in a grand way in the Wildcats’ 103-83 victory Saturday over Oregon at McKale Center.

Caleb Love, Pelle Larsson and Keshad Johnson each reached at least 20 points in the rout that assures that Arizona (23-6, 14-4) will have at least a half-game lead in the Pac-12 heading into the last week of the regular season.

Washington State (22-7, 13-5) is scheduled to play UCLA at Pullman, Wash., on Saturday night before hosting Washington on Thursday.

Arizona plays at UCLA and USC next week.

Another senior — Oumar Ballo — had 11 points and 12 rebounds against Oregon, giving him nine consecutive double-doubles, one shy of the school record of Al Fleming in 1974-75.

Salpointe alum Grant Weitman, a senior walk-on, got the sentimental start on Senior Day and had one of his two steals early in the game. It was Weitman’s first start since he was with the Lancers in the 2019-20 Class 4A state championship victory over Peoria at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

— Love had 22 points against Oregon while tying his season-high of seven assists.

— Larsson finished with 22 points and six assists. He is now at 999 points in his Arizona career and 1,203 overall including his freshman season at Utah.

— Johnson’s 21 points gives him 1,003 in his career at San Diego State and Arizona.

Boswell was 7 of 9 from the field, 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

“The youngest on the team (at 18 years old), but his ceiling is just crazy high,” Johnson said of Boswell.


The last time former Arizona walk-on turned college coach Josh Pastner was at McKale Center was a couple of years ago when the school celebrated its 25th anniversary of the national championship in the 1996-97 season.

He made his second return to McKale Center overall on Saturday since serving as an assistant for the last time under interim head coach Kevin O’Neill in the 2007-08 season.

Pastner was an assistant under John Calipari at Memphis before becoming the head coach at Memphis and Georgia Tech. He was not retained after last season by Georgia Tech, which hired Arizona great Damon Stoudamire as its new head coach.

Pastner has since become a college basketball analyst for ESPN and Peacock (NBC). He was on the call Saturday with Dave Pasch for ESPN’s broadcast of the Oregon-Arizona game.

Here are some of the comments Pastner made during the game:

On Lute Olson’s impact on the program

“What I will tell you, the strength of the Arizona program when you think about it, the credit goes to Lute Olson for what he built here, not just the basketball program but he literally put a city on the map. When you thought about Tucson, you thought about Arizona basketball. Kevin O’Neill followed him and he took a team to the (NCAA) tournament. Russ Pennell took the team to the Sweet 16. Obviously, Sean Miller’s success and now Tommy Lloyd’s success … it was all built by Lute Olson. That’s the power of what Coach Olson has built at this program.”

On Love:

“Caleb Love should absolutely be the Pac-12 Player of the Year — there’s no denying that.”

When Oregon coach Dana Altman had his hands on his hips and shaking his head when Arizona took a 38-18 lead with about 5 minutes left in the first half:

“Dave, the reason I’m sitting next to you is I’ve been in situations that Dana Altman is in … I was in a lot more of these situations than him.”

On Boswell:

“If Boswell plays like this, Arizona is an absolute No. 1 seed.”


Kenny Lofton, a member of Arizona’s first Final Four team in 1987-88, was honored at halftime with his induction into Arizona’s Ring of Honor, joining the names of other Wildcat legends in the McKale Center rafters.

After playing hoops at Arizona for Olson, Lofton went on to have a storied 17-year career in the major leagues, becoming a six-time All-Star.

Former Arizona baseball player Clark Crist, a scout with the Houston Astros who generated Lofton’s opportunity in pro baseball, was in attendance Saturday for the ceremony honoring Lofton.

“Clark Crist saw something in me,” Lofton said in a press conference Saturday. “I knew baseball was probably in my future growing up, but where I grew up (East Chicago, Ind.), I had to play basketball because of the full scholarship (to Arizona).

“I started missing baseball and I asked them (basketball and baseball coaches) if I can come out and work out with the baseball team because I was missing it. The path (to baseball) just kind of started.”

Lofton, who played in a handful of junior varsity games for Arizona, said he had one official at-bat for Arizona.

His desire to return to baseball was fueled by limited opportunities to score on the basketball court playing with the likes of Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Craig McMillan, Jud Buechler and Sean Rooks.

“I knew I wasn’t gonna get no shots off,” Lofton said with a laugh. “So I knew the opportunity for me to do is I had to go to a different sport. I knew it was not going to be my time (in basketball). I just said, ‘You know, let me go out there and just look at the baseball team and just work out. Clark Crist back there (in the press conference room) saw something in me and that was all she wrote.”

Lofton’s favorite story of Olson that he shared with reporters was when Olson took a charge from assistant Ricky Byrdsong on a baseline play during practice to show his players how to take a charge after they struggled to do that in the previous game.

Byrdsong did not hold back charging into Olson, knocking Olson on his backside.

“(Olson) jumped up and said, ‘This is what I’m talking about!’

“We were like, “Dude, he just knocked him on his butt.'”

“I didn’t think he knew that Coach Byrdsong was going to keep going when he went to the baseline and (Byrdsong) knocked him right over. He jumped up and said, ‘See, this is how you do it!’ When we saw that, we said, ‘If Coach is going to take a charge, we’re definitely going to be able to take a charge.'”


Oregon (19-10, 11-7) was led by Jermaine Couisnard’s 39 points, 33 of which he scored in the second half.

His scoring total in the second half matches the McKale Center record in a half set by Fleming against Detroit on Jan. 10, 1976.

Couisnard made 14 of his 24 field-goal attempts in the second half after going 2 of 8 with six points in the first half.

During the post-game senior ceremony, Lloyd quipped that he was going to get on “their asses” — Arizona’s basketball team — in practice Monday for the defense it showed in the second half.


Arizona shot 60.9 percent from the field in the game, including 14 of 25 from 3-point range.

The Wildcats finished with 27 assists, tying the season-high total against UT-Arlington in a 101-56 win on Nov. 19.

In addition to the 13 combined assists for Love and Larsson, Jaden Bradley had five and Boswell four.

Arizona had 39 made field goals, so that means 69 percent of the shots the Wildcats made came after an assist.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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