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News / Sports

Love scores 28, No. 4 Arizona bounces back to beat Washington 91-75

By JOHN MARSHALL / Associated Press
Published: February 24, 2024, 10:51pm

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — One of the hallmark’s of Tommy Lloyd’s tenure at Arizona has been the ability to bounce back from a loss. The Wildcats have been doing it for three years, winning every time, almost always in a blowout.

Washington knew what was coming after the Wildcats lost to Washington State two days earlier. The Huskies just couldn’t do much about it.

Caleb Love scored 28 points to eclipse 2,000 for his career and No. 4 Arizona bounced back from its first home loss of the season with a 91-75 win over Washington on Saturday.

“Today was a response game,” coach Lloyd said. “You just want to get the result.”

The Wildcats (21-6, 12-4 Pac-12) lost at McKale Center for the first time this year Thursday night, falling 77-74 to No. 21 Washington State.

Arizona shook it off quickly with a short turnaround, blistering the Huskies with a near-perfect start to build a 17-point lead in the opening 7 1/2 minutes in the teams’ final meeting at McKale Center as Pac-12 members.

Arizona’s Oumar Ballo controlled the paint after a quiet first half, finishing with 14 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots as the Wildcats turned back every Washington challenge. Arizona is 17-0 under Lloyd following a loss and has gone 99 straight games without losing two straight, the third-longest streak in Pac-12 history.

“We don’t let our last mistake affect our next opportunity,” Ballo said.

The Huskies (15-13, 7-10) had a wild night to start their two-game desert swing, beating Arizona State 84-82 in overtime on Thursday night after blowing a 25-point lead.

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Washington spent most of the afternoon against Arizona unsuccessfully trying to dig out of the big early hole, getting no closer than nine after falling behind by 23.

Koren Johnson led the Huskies with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists.

“We knew they were going to come out after a loss and play with that type of intensity and fire — that’s what they do,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “We just didn’t handle it well.”

Arizona was plagued by bouts of questionable shot selection in the loss to Washington State.

The Wildcats had no such problem early against the Huskies.

Crisply running the offense, Arizona hit its first seven shots and opened 11 of 12 to build a 27-11 lead. Washington fought back after absorbing the early body blow, using a 10-0 run to pull within 42-31.

But Arizona kept hitting shots and even got some help from Washington big man Braxton Meah, who inadvertently tipped the ball into his own basket.

The Wildcats hit 18 of 34 shots in the first half, including 6 of 10 from 3, to lead 52-35.

Arizona went on a 9-0 run early in the second half to go up 61-38, but went cold from the floor as Washington started chipping away.

The Huskies used a 14-2 run to pull within 69-60, holding the Wildcats to 1-of-10 shooting during the rally. Arizona continued to struggle offensively, but turned up the defensive pressure to stretch the lead back out to 16.

“The character of these guys is they never give up, but you almost have to be perfect,” Hopkins said. “When you’re playing from behind against a team like that, it’s hard.”

LOVE’S MARK

Love started his career at North Carolina, hitting some massive shots during the Tar Heels’ run to the 2022 national title game.

Love’s role is slightly different at Arizona, but he’s still the go-to player in key moments. He scored 20 points in the first half as Arizona built the big lead and hit a couple more baskets late as the Wildcats extended the lead back out.

Love needed 28 points to become the 22nd active player to reach 2,000 career points and got it right on the nose.

“I wanted to do it at home, God willing, but everything worked out and I got it,” he said. “If I didn’t get it I would have been happy to do it at their (rival Arizona State) place.”

BIG PICTURE

Washington: The Huskies had a second-half letdown against Arizona State and concluded their last Pac-12 desert trip by fighting an uphill battle most of the afternoon.

Arizona: The Wildcats will likely drop a spot or two in Monday’s AP Top 25, but had a nice rebound after losing their first home game with an eighth straight win over Washington.

UP NEXT

Washington: Hosts UCLA on Thursday night.

Arizona: Visits rival Arizona State on Wednesday night.

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