Arizona Basketball

How Sweet (16) it is: Arizona’s bench, led by Bradley, propels Wildcats to next round

Keshad Johnson scores against Dayton (Arizona Athletics photo)

Jaden Bradley scored nine of his 12 points in the second half to lift No. 2 Arizona to a 78-68 victory Saturday over No. 7 Dayton in the NCAA West Region second-round game at Salt Lake City.

Bradley scored five of the points in a critical 10-0 run by the Wildcats (27-8) that put them ahead 66-51 with 6:51 left. He also had four rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals in the game.

Arizona is now 7-0 when Bradley scores in double figures.

The Wildcats advance to the Sweet 16 at Los Angeles, where they will play next week against the winner of the No. 6 Clemson and No. 3 Baylor game that is Sunday at Memphis, Tenn.

“I trusted in my teammates and my teammates trusted in me and played Arizona basketball,” Bradley told CBS of his performance. “We’re going to get ready, rest our bodies, recover and get ready for the next opponent.”

Dayton, which narrowed a 17-point halftime deficit to only seven points at halftime, did not give in after Bradley’s 3-pointer that put Arizona up by 15 with less than 7 minutes left.

Pelle Larsson gave the Wildcats a healthy lead of 71-59 with 2:55 remaining following a free throw when Dayton post player DaRon Holmes II was assessed a flagrant-1 foul for shoving Larsson on the face following a screen.

Dayton, which applied an effective fullcourt press that caused most of Arizona’s 15 turnovers in the game, then started to make a threat like the end of the first half.

The Flyers (25-8) cut the lead to 71-64 with 55.7 seconds left on two free throws by Nate Santos.

From then, Arizona shut the door by making six of its seven free throw attempts by Kylan Boswell, KJ Lewis and Caleb Love.

Love led the Wildcats with 19 points and Larsson had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Keshad Johnson finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

Holmes, the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year who hails from Goodyear, led Dayton with 23 points and 11 rebounds. He struggled from the field, however, making 8 of 17 shots because of defenders swarming to him.

The Wildcats started strong, opening a 17-8 lead with 12:51 left in the half after an 11-2 run highlighted by Love starting with a 3-pointer and ending with a jumper.

A Larsson 3-pointer and layup increased the Arizona lead to 37-20 with 4:17 left in the half.

After a 3-pointer by Holmes, Bradley made one of two free-throw attempts and Motiejus Krivas made a dunk to get the lead back to 17 points, 40-23, with 2:43 left in the half.

The bottom then fell out for Arizona until halftime.

Four turnovers by the Wildcats helped fuel a 10-0 run by Dayton.

Arizona took a 40-33 lead into halftime after a 3-pointer by Dayton’s Javon Bennett rattled in and out at the buzzer.

“I’m happy we’re up seven; it’s a long game and Dayton’s a good team,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd told CBS before going to the locker room. “We just gotta settle down and play a little smarter.”

Arizona had 11 turnovers in the first half and finished with 15 for the game.

Love’s strong performance in the first 20 minutes was key with him scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting (3 of 5 from 3-point range).

Arizona made 64 percent of its shots from the field (16 of 25) and 55.6 percent from 3-point range (5 of 9) in the first half.

The Wildcats finished shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Dayton was 40.7 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from 3-point range.

Dayton’s Koby Brea, who entered the game making 49.7 percent from beyond the mark, made 4 of 8, but he was only 1 of 3 in the second half.

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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