ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Kevin Durant, LeBron James and all eyes were on USC-Arizona

Jan 18, 2024, 8:43 AM | Updated: 8:57 am

Kevin Durant attends USC-Arizona men's basketball on Jan. 18, 2024...

Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns attends the game between the Arizona Wildcats and the USC Trojans at McKale Center on January 17, 2024 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Arizona men’s basketball rebounded from a confounding road loss with an 82-67 win against the USC Trojans on Wednesday day, moving to 13-4 and 4-2 in Pac-12 play.

It was hardly surprising considering the Wildcats under third-year coach Tommy Lloyd are now 15-0 coming off a loss.

There were a few details within the game for the No. 12 team that were curious, which we’ll get to. But there were other notable people to watch at McKale Center beyond the game at hand, including some Wildcat football things and a few star sightings.

Kevin Durant drops in to watch USC-Arizona, LeBron zones out

The Suns mounted a 22-point, fourth-quarter comeback on Tuesday and don’t play until Friday at the New Orleans Pelicans. The day off with practice set for Thursday allowed Durant to head down the I-10 to take in a matchup featuring LeBron James’ son, Bronny James.

He and Suns assistant Miles Simon, a Wildcat legend, chopped it up during a break.

 

“Arizona basketball, it’s a show. I mean, I wish we would’ve played better for everybody tonight,” Lloyd told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers were closing out a win against the Dallas Mavericks that ended before the USC-Arizona finish. LeBron James was taking questions from reporters while showing some dad frustration in the Lakers locker room.

For a USC team missing its best players in guards Boogie Ellis and Isaiah Collier, Bronny James finished with 11 points, six assists and five turnovers. It was the freshman’s 10th game since returning from a heart issue.

“I thought he played pretty good today,” Lloyd said. “I don’t know him at all but I’m proud of how he’s handled everything. The people I know who know him say first-class kid, first-class family.”

Brent Brennan’s recruiting efforts were in full swing

The work done Wednesday night by new Arizona football coach Brent Brennan might have been as important as the men’s basketball result on the court.

Brennan took in the game with quarterback Noah Fifita, receiver Tetairoa McMillan, running back Jonah Coleman and linebacker Jacob Manu. They sat close by Durant in the first row.

Coleman is the only one of those players who has put his name in the transfer portal, but it was nevertheless an important sight for Arizona fans who are hoping to keep a 10-win football team’s roster intact following the departure of head coach Jedd Fisch.

Coleman appeared to be shook by sitting courtside near Durant.

On to the basketball: Bradley’s stock rises

Sophomore point guard Jaden Bradley has yet to earn a start this year, his first with the Wildcats after transferring from Alabama. But he did begin the second half as the lead guard over Kylan Boswell.

Boswell, an NBA Draft prospect, has struggled with his shooting in the past two months.

“Just trying to shake it up a little bit. JB’s been playing well. It’s not slight on Kylan,” Lloyd said. “Sometimes when you don’t start a kid, it’s hard to up his minutes when … basically the first four minutes of each half, they don’t play. So then they’re down to 32, instead of 40.

“So it was nothing — I was just trying to shake it up a little bit. I’ll continue to evaluate it, haven’t made any final decisions.”

The on-court analytics for Bradley also might be playing a role in all this.

Boswell, who played alongside Bradley for significant stretches against the Trojans, scored 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting to go with three assists in 25 minutes.

Bradley played 21 minutes, scoring 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting and dropping three dimes. Most significantly, he added five steals.

Seeing doubles

Not only did Lloyd go heavy with point guards on the court — he doubled up with two centers playing together as well.

The Wildcats deployed starting center Oumar Ballo and backup Motiejus Krivas.

Ballo finished with eight points and 13 rebounds (27 minutes), while Krivas added four points and eight boards (15 minutes). Each added two steals.

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