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Arizona men’s basketball shows off improved depth in blowout exhibition win

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-recap-exhibition-lewis-clark-naia-warriors-injuries-tommy-lloyd Arizona Athletics

With far more depth than in his first two seasons, Tommy Lloyd has the luxury of mixing and matching lineups during the preseason to find the ones that will work best for when the games start to count in a few weeks. But even he was surprised by some of the quintets he ended up having on the court Friday night.

“If you were to ask me last week lineup-wise some of the lineups we played I probably would have thought you were crazy,” Lloyd said after Arizona’s 110-70 exhibition win over Lewis-Clark State College at McKale Center.

The UA was without three players, likely starters Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson and freshman center Motiejus Krivas, who sat out with minor injuries. That left the Wildcats with 10 available scholarship players, and all got into the game in the first 6:20 of action.

“It was good to kind of put some guys in some uncomfortable situations, maybe a little earlier than I would have liked,” Lloyd said. “But I feel good about overall how the guys responded throughout the course of the game. I just wanted to get our team onto the court against someone else, where you may not be more prepared for every scenario. And now you got film ,and a lot of times film is a great teacher, so we’re going to make sure we take advantage of that.”

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love led the way with 23 points in 24 minutes, going 9 of 12 from the field, and adding seven assists. San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson was a perfect 8 of 8 for 19 points, five assist and four of Arizona’s 17 steals.

Kylan Boswell went for 15, KJ Lewis had 13, Dylan Anderson added 12 and Filip Borovicanin 10 with eight rebounds as the UA shot 60.9 percent while holding Lewis-Clark to 40.6 percent shooting. The Warriors hit 11 of 28 3-pointers, though, something Lloyd said was due to over rotating on defense.

“I have an idea of why I think some of them are happening, but I’ll go back and double check to make sure without guessing,” he said.

Arizona led 57-38 at halftime, ending on a 17-2 run capped by Love’s 30-footer at the buzzer. That came off the Wildcats’ eighth steal of the first half, and they converted 12 L-C turnovers into 21 points in the opening 20 minutes.

A 25-2 run over a 7-minute span upped the lead to 84-46 with 10:35 left, and during that run everyone got in on the swiping action including one play when all three transfers combined for a score. Johnson got the steal, passed to Bradley who no-looked one behind him to Love for a dunk.

Later, Veesaar stole the ball at midcourt and dunked it with only a few strides between getting the ball and scoring.

All told, the UA converted 21 Lewis-Clark turnovers into 35 points and had a 42-8 edge in fast break points. Six different Wildcats had at least two steals.

“I think we have guys that have good instincts to make steals,” Lloyd said. “We don’t talk a ton about hey, we got to get steals, we got to do this, we got to do that. I think they’re just a byproduct of our personnel and how we play. We want to apply ball pressure and we want to be opportunistic. I still want to see our defense grow and get better in those gaps situations. I think that’s what caused some of those over rotations today that open threes.”

Lewis-Clark led for just under four minutes in the first half, going up 17-16 midway through on a putback by Anthony Peoples Jr. that gave the Warriors eight second-chance points in the first 10-plus minutes. They wouldn’t get another until garbage time in the second half.

The Warriors’ last lead came at 29-28 with 6:49 to go, after which they were outscored 29-9 the rest of the first half. The UA retook the lead for good on a pull-up transition 3 from Boswell.

Arizona plays its final preseason tuneup Oct. 30 at McKale against New Mexico Highlands.