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Absence of 3 players in first exhibition opens door for Arizona men’s basketball reserves to carve out roles

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-exhibition-filip-borvicanin-dylan-anderson-tommy-lloyd-2023 Arizona Athletics

Arizona played its first exhibition game on Friday night without a trio of players who are expected to have big roles this season. Coach Tommy Lloyd said centers Oumar Ballo and Motiejus Krivas and wing Pelle Larsson should be back “sooner rather than later,” possibly by the next warmup on Oct. 30.

In the meantime, their absence provides an opportunity for others to carve a role on what is expected to be a fairly deep rotation.

“I just view it as something to help the team out,” center Dylan Anderson said after the Wildcats’ 110-70 win over NAIA school Lewis-Clark State.

The 7-foot sophomore started in place of Ballo and had 12 points with four rebounds in 19 minutes. He made 5 of 9 shots and both free throws.

“Dylan has really been practicing well and making good progress, and those other two guys he has been battling (Ballo and Krivas) with are really good players,” Lloyd said.

Anderson, who was Lloyd’s first prep signee after getting the Arizona job, appeared in 17 games as a freshman but logged only 54 minutes with 24 coming against Pac-12 opponents. He said Friday that he’s much more confident and stronger than a year ago, with a greater knowledge of the game.

“All facets of my game I’m better,” he said.

Also reaching double figures in the exhibition was sophomore wing Filip Borvicanin, who had 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 18 minutes. He made 4 of 6 shots and was the only Wildcat with multiple offensive rebounds.

Borvicanin, who got into 14 games as a freshman, had some solid performances for the UA during its international trip to Israel and Abu Dhabi in August. He and freshman Paulius Murauskas are the top choices to sub for Larsson at the 3, but he could also play the 2 or 4 if that’s where he can get minutes.

“I’m not worried about that, I’m just worrying about trying to do my best on every practice, on every game whenever I get a chance,” Borvicanin said.