Arizona Basketball

NCAA West Subregional Capsules: No. 2 Arizona, No. 15 LBSU, No. 7 Dayton & No. 10 Nevada

Arizona’s Caleb Love, Jaden Bradley and Keshad Johnson celebrate a made basket (Gilbert Alcaraz/Special to

NO. 2 ARIZONA (25-8)

   COACH: Tommy Lloyd, three years at Arizona, three years in NCAA tournament with the Wildcats (2-2 record). Career record: 86-18, third year.

   HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid

   LAST APPEARANCE: 2023, lost in first round to Princeton

  • NET ranking: 4
  • KenPom ranking: 6
  • Quad 1 record: 8-3
  • Quad 2 record: 7-4
  • Quad 3 record: 8-1
  • Quad 4 record: 2-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 8
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 12

   GO-TO GUYS: Caleb Love, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, leads the Wildcats with 18.1 points a game. His 478 field-goal attempts are 190 more than the next player — Kylan Boswell with 288. He has taken 248 shots from 3-point range, 90 more than Boswell. No other player has more than 100 attempts from beyond the arc. Love is shooting 42.1 percent from the field, 34.7 percent from 3-point range. Veterans Oumar Ballo (13.1 points per game), Pelle Larsson (12.8) and Keshad Johnson (11.6) help take pressure off Love.

   X FACTOR: The reserve guard tandem of Jaden Bradley and KJ Lewis. The energy they bring off the bench is crucial to an Arizona team known for needing a jolt once in a while. Arizona is 6-0 when Bradley scores in double figures and 6-1 when Lewis does the same. The lone loss was a double-overtime game against Florida Atlantic in which Lewis finished with 10 points.

   STRENGTHS: Arizona is third nationally in scoring (87.9 points a game) and rebounding (42.6). Ballo is emblematic of both areas, averaging a double-double (13.1 points and 10.1 rebounds a game). He has 17 double-doubles this season and 31 overall in his career. Arizona led the Pac-12 in assists per game (18.6) and steals per game (8.3), indlcating that the Wildcats are most dangerous in transition after a steal, pushing the pace. The Wildcats have two of the most experienced players when it comes to the NCAA tournament — Love and Johnson, both of whom have played in the national championship game for different schools (Love at North Carolina and Johnson at San Diego State).

   WEAKNESSES: Arizona has a tendency to go into lulls, long stretches without a field goal with turnovers, a situation that cost the Wildcats the Pac-12 tournament championship. Arizona went from a 14-point lead in the first half to a 14-point deficit in the second half in the semifinal loss to Oregon. Arizona finished eighth in the Pac-12 in turnovers averaging 12 a game. Perimeter defense is also a question mark with opponents averaging nearly eight made 3-pointers a game (7.9).


Long Beach State senior guard Marcus Tsohonis has a favorable history with Arizona (Long Beach State photo)

   COACH: Dan Monson, 17 years at Long Beach State, second year in NCAA tournament with the Beach, fourth year overall in the NCAA tournament (3-3 record). Career record: 445-395, 27th year.

   HOW THEY GOT IN: Big West tournament champions

   LAST APPEARANCE: 2012, lost in first round to New Mexico

  • NET ranking: 170
  • KenPom ranking: 163
  • Quad 1 record: 0-1
  • Quad 2 record: 3-2
  • Quad 3 record: 7-5
  • Quad 4 record: 9-6
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 145
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 210

   GO-TO GUY: Former Washington player Marcus Tsohonis plays his best against the best, scoring 35 points in a win at Michigan and 28 in a victory at USC (in Bronny James’ first game and with LeBron James in attendance). The senior guard from Portland passed 1,000 career points scored across stretches at Washington, VCU and Long Beach State. The team’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game, Tsohonis set a program record with 46 points in a triple overtime win at UCSD last season. Played in Arizona’s last game in 2019-20 with Washington in the Pac-12 tournament before COVID-19 canceled the rest of the tournament. He started for the Huskies as a freshman and set a career-high with seven rebounds while also adding 14 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and a 6-of-7 mark from the free-throw line in the 77-70 loss to Arizona. 

   X FACTOR: Reserve 6-foot-6 guard AJ George continues to play a major role for the Beach as a third-year sophomore. After starting 25 games a year ago, George is averaging 10.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a consistent presence in the rotation. Starting 13 games in Big West play, George lifted his scoring average to 11.6 points per game, including a career-high 28 points at CSU Bakersfield.

   STRENGTHS: Long Beach State led the Big West in scoring at 77.7 points per game and also topped the conference in steals (7.97) and blocked shots (4.23). The Beach was also second in assists (15.4) and rebounding (38.5). Aboubacar and Lassina Traore, who both hail from the Ivory Coast but are not related, fuel the Beach. Aboubacar Traore is averaging a team-best 4.5 assists per game. He is also averaging 12 points and 8.1 rebounds and making 52.8 percent of his shots from the floor. Lassina Traore is the Beach’s top rebounder (10.4 per game), and he posts 12.1 points a game.

   WEAKNESSES: Although Long Beach State is impressive with its steals and blocked shots, it was last in the Big West in scoring defense allowing 75.7 points a game. The Beach also averages only 5.8 made 3-pointers a game, perhaps good news for Arizona, which has struggled at times with its defense from beyond the arc.

NO. 7 DAYTON (24-7)

Dayton post player DaRon Holmes II was once a top recruiting target of Arizona when Sean Miller was coach (Dayton photo)

   COACH: Anthony Grant, eighth year at Dayton, first year in NCAA tournament with the Flyers, fourth year overall in the NCAA tournament (1-3 record). Career record: 341-181, 16th year.

   HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid

   LAST APPEARANCE: 2017, lost in first round to Wichita State

  • NET ranking: 23
  • KenPom ranking: 32
  • Quad 1 record: 3-4
  • Quad 2 record: 5-3
  • Quad 3 record: 9-0
  • Quad 4 record: 7-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 18
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 87

GO-TO GUY: Former Goodyear Millennium standout DaRon Holmes II, the 2024 Atlantic-10 Co-Player of the Year & Defensive Player of the Year, was a one-time Arizona recruiting target and had the Wildcats as one of his final four choices in 2020 along with Cal, Marquette and Dayton. He was the 2019-20 Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 23.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. A 6-foot-10 forward who finished his prep career at AZ Compass Prep, Holmes averages 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He is the only player at the Division I level who has more than 65 blocks, 65 dunks and 65 assists this season.

   X FACTOR: Koby Brea, a junior guard, is the Atlantic-10 Sixth Man of the Year for the second time in his career. He is just the second two-time Sixth Man (James Posey of Xavier achieved the feat in 1997 and 1998). Brea leads the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage (minimum 2.5 attempts a game.). Brea is shooting .497 (89 of 179).

   STRENGTHS: Experience is a strength although Dayton may be a year away with a talented junior-heavy roster — its starting lineup is entirely juniors. Dayton is third in Division I in 3-point shooting percentage (40.2, 295-734). The school record is .392. Dayton avoids fouls. The Flyers’ opponents shoot 12.9 free throws per game, the second fewest in the nation. That’s partially a result of Dayton playing at a slower tempo. The Flyers rank 12th in the nation when looking at fewest fouls per possession (20.2 percent).

   WEAKNESSES: Overall defense is a question mark. The Flyers rank 87th in KenPom defense, the fourth-worst rank of any NCAA Tournament at-large team. Dayton struggles to force turnovers, creating a takeaway on 15.3 percent of its defensive possessions (276th in the nation). Dayton also ranks 171st in the nation in defensive rebounds.

NO. 10 NEVADA (26-7)

Jarod Lucas has a background of playing against Arizona while at Oregon State (Nevada photo)

   COACH: Steve Alford, fifth year at Nevada, second year in NCAA tournament with the Wolf Pack, 13th year in the NCAA tournament overall (11-12 record). Career record: 683–356, 33rd year.

   HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid

   LAST APPEARANCE: 2023, lost in the First Four to Arizona State

  • NET ranking: 34
  • KenPom ranking: 36
  • Quad 1 record: 6-6
  • Quad 2 record: 2-0
  • Quad 3 record: 8-1
  • Quad 4 record: 8-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 40
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 36

   GO-TO GUYS: Nevada’s backcourt of fifth-year seniors Jarod Lucas (17.8 points per game) and Kenan Blackshear (15.1 points per game, 4.9 assists per game and 4.9 rebounds per game) is a formidable one. Lucas, a former Oregon State standout, is making 39.7 percent of his 3-pointers. Blackshear is one of the nation’s biggest and strongest point guards at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds. He also is tied for the team lead in steals (42) with forward Tré Coleman.

   X FACTOR: Coleman is a two-time All-Mountain West defensive player of the year who guards the opposing team’s top perimeter scorer, so if Nevada faces Arizona, Love will see a lot of Coleman. Nevada ranks 36th in the nation in defense, according to KenPom. The Wolf Pack have held opponents to 31.8 percent shooting from the 3-point line behind his defense.

   STRENGTHS: Aside from its defense and backcourt play, Nevada is strong with its aggressive play to the hoop. The result of that is many fouls. The Wolf Pack draw a foul on 31.1 percent of its offensive possessions, which ranks second nationally. They have attempted 24.8 free throws a game, which is ninth nationally. Nevada’s accuracy from the line can come and go with the Pack having some great performances and some performances that have left a lot to be desired. Nevada scores 23.8 percent of its points from the line (10th in the NCAA).

   WEAKNESSES: Nevada’s inside presence is a concern. The Wolf Pack ranks 209th in the nation in offensive rebounding, 91st in defensive rebounding and 118th overall in total rebounding. Nevada gets only 28.5 points per game in the post. Outside of center Nick Davidson (12.1 points per game shooting 54.9 percent), the scoring goes way down at the post for the Wolf Pack.

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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