A strong second half leads No.5 Arizona MBB over Montana State 85-64

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Nathanial Stenchever | The Daily Wildcat

The Arizona women's basketball team is coached by Adia Barnes. The Arizona men's basketball team is coached by Tommy Lloyd.

After a high-scoring yet close first half, the Arizona men's basketball team tightened up on the defensive end for the final 20 minutes. The second half was all red and blue, as head coach Tommy Lloyd's half-time adjustments paid a dividend, winning the half by 14 points. This led to Arizona winning 85-64 against Montana State University on Dec. 20 in McKale Center. 

Arizona could not create much separation early on, primarily because they only had nine second-chance points. Furthermore, both teams were tied at 18 rebounds at halftime. 

As expected, Lloyd decided to use his reinforcements early. Lloyd has stressed the importance of continuing to see more development and production from the bench. Unfortunately, the Wildcats could not blow the game open, keeping the starters in longer than Lloyd would have wished for. 

Despite Saturday’s victory against the University of Tennessee, Arizona received zero points from their bench and it was imperative to flip the script. Kylan Boswell had a few critical spurts off the bench tonight. The 17-year-old was active in the passing lanes and helped the Wildcats get out in transition converting easy buckets on the other end. Boswell finished with 4 points, three rebounds and four steals. 

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Arizona was able to get into the free-throw bonus at the 10-minute mark in the second half, having the ability to control the tempo and extend their lead. However, Azuolas Tubelis picked up his fourth foul around the nine-minute mark in the second half, causing him to take a seat and Lloyd had to turn to an option off the bench.  

Kerr Kriisa led Arizona in scoring with 18 points, pouring in six 3-pointers. Kriisa was able to get to his spots along the perimeter, many of his makes coming off the catch, staying balanced and having his feet set. All four of the Wildcats' other starters finished the game with double-digits. Cedric Henderson showed his aggressiveness off the bench, adding 16 points. 

The Bobcats could not buy a shot all evening from the perimeter, finishing 3-24. Jubrile Belo was a force inside, scoring 18 points on 7-8 shooting from the field. The group only converted nine field goals in the second half, having trouble finding the bottom of the net. 

Arizona has witnessed a rollercoaster schedule over the past few weeks, seeing some of the best teams in the country while also some low-end division one opponents. The coaching staff deserves credit for keeping the group’s mentality in check, not playing down the competition and taking care of each contest.  

Thursday will mark the Wildcats' last game of the non-conference schedule as Morgan State University will travel across the country for a date with Arizona. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in the McKale Center and can be watched live on Pac-12 Network. 


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