ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona blows out NAU to start Tommy Lloyd era in Tucson

Nov 9, 2021, 10:46 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2021, 12:13 am
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd talks to the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball ga...

Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd talks to the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northern Arizona, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 81-52. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Kerr Kriisa scored 17 points, Azoulas Tubelis added 13 and Arizona opened the Tommy Lloyd era with an 81-52 win over Northern Arizona on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats shook off a sluggish start with a stifling defense anchored by 7-footer Christian Koloko and a free-flowing offense Lloyd brought with him from Gonzaga.

Koloko blocked five shots, Arizona scored 24 points of Northern Arizona’s 21 turnovers and had a 40-22 advantage in the paint.

Carson Towt led the Lumberjacks (0-1) with 11 points.

Lloyd spent 20 seasons as Mark Few’s right-hand man at Gonzaga, helping transform a small school in eastern Washington into a national powerhouse.

Lloyd was considered the coach-in-waiting at Gonzaga, but the opportunity to run an elite program like Arizona was too much to pass up. He inherited NCAA sanctions that could drop any day and a roster that lost four of its top six scorers from a year ago.

Lloyd replenished with top-level transfers and freshmen to fill in around a talented core of returning players.

The Wildcats needed a little time to rev up the engine, missing shots while allowing Northern Arizona to hang around.

Arizona ran away from the Lumberjacks once it hit the accelerator.

Using their length to create turnovers and block shots, the Wildcats went on a 15-3 run to go up 31-15, the crowd roaring with each made basket.

Kriisa had nine points, Dalen Terry six assists and Koloko four blocked shots as Arizona stretched the lead to 42-22 at halftime.

Koloko opened the first half with a block and flashed a big smile after swatting another into the crowd. That set the tone for Arizona, which kept up the pressure and its big lead for a rousing start to Lloyd’s tenure.

Northern Arizona lost its top two scorers from last season to the transfer portal, but coach Shane Burcar was able to fill the gaps with some quality replacements.

The new-look Lumberjacks held their own early in one of college basketball’s toughest arenas, overcoming a string of turnovers with stretches of solid defense. Northern Arizona lost track of the Wildcats during their big first-half run and, despite a couple of short second-half runs, never had much chance of catching Arizona.

THE TAKEAWAY

Northern Arizona would have needed a nearly perfect game to have any chance at upsetting Arizona. The Lumberjacks didn’t get it, but did enough good things that the trip should help them once Big Sky Conference play starts.

Arizona took a while to get going before showing off the type of athleticism McKale Center fans are used to seeing.

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats guard Kerr Kriisa (25) reacts after being called for a technical foul during a gam...
Arizona Sports

Arizona basketball rises to No. 3 in latest AP rankings

The Arizona Wildcats are now the top ranked team in the Pac-12 after rising to No. 3 in the latest AP men's college basketball rankings.
3 days ago
Arizona guard Pelle Larsson, center, is squeezed between Utah guards Lazar Stefanovic, left, and Ma...
Associated Press

Tubelis scores career-high 32 points as No. 6 Arizona rolls to win over Utah

Azoulas Tubelis scored 32 points, Christian Koloko added 16 points, and No. 6 Arizona dominated Utah inside for a win on Saturday night.
5 days ago
Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin (0) throws up a three sign after hitting a long range shot during ...
Associated Press

4 Wildcats score in double figures as No. 6 Arizona ousts Colorado

Azuolas Tubelis and Justin Kier scored 14 points, and No. 6 Arizona overwhelmed Colorado in the second half for a 76-55 win Thursday night.
6 days ago
Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts against the Syracuse Orange during t...
Jake Anderson

ASU, Arizona basketball reschedule postponed games due to COVID-19

The Arizona State men's basketball team has rescheduled two games that were postponed due to COVID-19, the school announced on Wednesday.
8 days ago
Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa (25) pumps up the crowd during the second half of an NCAA college basketb...
Arizona Sports

Arizona basketball moves up to No. 6 in AP rankings

The Arizona Wildcats are now ranked sixth in The Associated Press poll despite little action over the past two-plus weeks.
10 days ago
Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin (0) drives past Oregon State's Dexter Akanno (3) during the first half...
Associated Press

Benn Mathurin’s draft stock rises as he learns to trust Arizona teammates

Bennedict Mathurin played a supporting role at Arizona as a freshman, showing off his athleticism only in flashes. He's grown a lot since.
15 days ago
Arizona blows out NAU to start Tommy Lloyd era in Tucson