ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Lloyd says Arizona Wildcats are ‘built for’ pressure of NCAA Tournament

Mar 21, 2024, 9:00 PM | Updated: Mar 22, 2024, 8:20 am

Head coach Tommy Lloyd...

Head coach Tommy Lloyd of the Arizona Wildcats looks on before the Desert Classic against the Florida Atlantic Owls at T-Mobile Arena on December 23, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Arizona Wildcats likely won’t be celebrating their 20-point win over Long Beach State in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Thursday for too long.

Another pressure-packed game awaits on Saturday vs. Dayton.

“The tournament pressure deal is real,” Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd said after Thursday’s 85-65 win. “Anybody that says it’s not is lying to you. I mean, it’s a real thing. That’s one of the things that makes it such a fun tournament to watch. It makes it really hard to play in.”

All eyes were on Arizona on Thursday after its first-round exit from last year’s tournament as a No. 2 seed thanks to a loss to Princeton, a No. 15 seed.

Lloyd said the Wildcats, again a No. 2 seed, learned some lessons from the humbling defeat and it showed vs. Long Beach State.

“For our guys to overcome that day, we got off to a decent start, they made a run at us, we settled in, took control,” Lloyd said. “So (I’m) really proud … I thought our guys did a great job of not letting the tournament pressure get in. We turned it up, really focused one task at a time, made a few plays, flipped the script.”

Arizona led Long Beach State 41-35 at halftime and took control in the second half.

Dayton will enter Saturday’s game against Arizona after mounting a huge comeback win over Nevada in the first round.

The bulk of the pressure will be on Arizona. Again. And that’s OK with Lloyd.

“Fortunately I think this is my 25th time in the NCAA tournament, so I’ve been around it a little bit,” Lloyd said. “Some of our guys have been around it a little bit. To be quite honest, I think we’re built for it.”

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