Arizona thwarts Dayton’s comeback bid, moves closer to home-state Final Four

Arizona is now two wins away from enjoying a Ultimate 4 a two-hour drive from its campus.

The second-seeded Wildcats turned the primary crew to advance to the NCAA event’s spherical of 16 on Saturday with a hard-earned 78-68 victory over resilient, never-say-die Dayton.

Two days in the past, Dayton trailed by 17 halfway by the second half of its first-round matchup in opposition to Nevada. The seventh-seeded Flyers responded with a 24-4 surge to stun the Wolf Pack and prolong their season.

On Saturday, Dayton once more fell behind by 17 late within the first half, the sufferer of an early barrage of 3s from streak-shooting Arizona guard Caleb Love. The Flyers answered again with a 10-0 surge going into halftime and later trimmed the deficit to as little as three, however the Wildcats didn’t wilt when confronted with sport strain.

Somewhat than permitting Dayton to proceed to power lumbering 7-footer Oumar Ballo to defend choose and rolls, Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd went to a small-ball unit with versatile ahead Keshad Johnson within the center. The change helped the Wildcats string collectively sufficient stops to increase the result in double digits once more and arrange a Candy 16 matchup in opposition to both third-seeded Baylor or sixth-seeded Clemson on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Love had 13 of his team-high 19 factors within the opening 12 minutes to assist Arizona storm out of the beginning blocks quick in a sport that tipped at 10:45 a.m. MT. Dayton star DaRon Holmes II stored his crew in putting distance with 23 factors and 11 rebounds, the vast majority of the versatile, athletic ahead’s harm coming through the choose and roll.

Mar 23, 2024; Salt Lake Metropolis, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Caleb Love (2) reacts after a basket in the course of the first half within the second spherical of the 2024 NCAA Match in opposition to the Dayton Flyers at Vivint Sensible House Enviornment-Delta Middle. Necessary Credit score: Gabriel Mayberry-USA TODAY Sports activities

Arizona’s victory retains the Pac-12 excellent in its remaining NCAA event. The dying energy convention is now 6-0 this week with Washington State, Oregon and Colorado nonetheless left to play within the spherical of 32.

In three seasons at Arizona, Lloyd has gained nearly 90 video games, captured two Pac-12 titles and claimed two convention event crowns. The one factor Lloyd hasn’t but finished is coach the Wildcats deep into the NCAA event.

Two years in the past, a top-seeded Arizona crew was lucky to outlive TCU within the spherical of 32 after which misplaced to Houston within the Candy 16. Final yr, a second-seeded Arizona crew didn’t even win a sport, falling to Princeton within the spherical of 64.

A deep run remains to be a risk this yr. And a home-state Ultimate 4 stays a tantalizing risk.

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