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Arizona players ‘hyped’ to complete Vegas revenge tour in Pac-12 final against UCLA

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-ucla-bruins-vegas-revenge-stanford-ucla-boswell-larsson-ballo-2023 Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS—After Cedric Henderson Jr. put together his second straight big performance in the Pac-12 Tournament, Tommy Lloyd was quick to dub him “Vegas Ced.” His response to a question about Oumar Ballo’s offensive resurgence during the tourney included a “Maui O” reference, a callback to when Oumar dominated the Maui Invitational and won MVP.

Yet when it comes to admitting Arizona is treating this weekend like its own personal revenge tour, that’s where Lloyd isn’t keen on using labels or nicknames.

“For me, there’s no extra motivation,” Lloyd said after Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Stanford, the seventh of what is now eight wins in as many tries during his head coaching career facing a team he lost to the last time out.

The ninth try comes Saturday night when second-seeded Arizona (27-6) takes on No. 1 UCLA (29-4) for the Pac-12 title. The Bruins beat the UA 82-73 in Los Angeles a week ago, themselves avenging a 58-52 loss in Tucson in January.

While Lloyd won’t use the R word, his team is more than willing to. The players were well aware, when the Pac-12 tourney bracket came out, the opportunity was there for the UA to get payback against Stanford, ASU and UCLA in a 3-day span.

“We were definitely hyped up to see that possibility of each game to be a revenge tour,” Kylan Boswell said. “Playing Stanford, playing ASU, getting everything lined up how we wanted it.”

Ballo said he ascribes to the revenge theory, as does Pelle Larsson, though he said it’s not his top priority.

“I am a believer of revenge tour, but what I’m more a believer in is winning championships,” Larsson said. “And tomorrow we want to win a championship.”

Added Ballo: “I agree with whatever Pelle says. We’re going to play hard, for ourselves, for the team and for the fans who came all the way from Tucson.”