SALT LAKE CITY—In the Gonzaga Family Feud, Tommy Lloyd is the one on the end of the row who gets picked on by all the older siblings. On Thursday, he had a chance to get some payback.

Lloyd and his second-seeded Arizona Wildcats won by 20 points over No. 15 seed Long Beach State, coached by Dan Monson, effectively ending the tenure of the guy who is responsible for getting him into the business.

And he was glad to do it, while also wishing it didn’t have to be that way.

“Hey, make no bones about it, I wanted to kick Monson’s ass,” Lloyd said after the 85-65 win. “Don’t make any bones about it. We’re competitors. It’s like playing, I’m the little brother. I’ve always been the little brother to all those guys. Sometimes little brother has got to fight back.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t love Muns. I felt, I almost do now, like tears starting to well up when I hugged him at the end of the game.”

Monson, who was an assistant coach at Gonzaga in the mid-1990s, promised Lloyd a graduate assistant gig when he was done playing pro ball. By the time that happened, though, Monson had left for Minnesota after leading the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight, with Mark Few in his place. Few honored Monson’s promise, and the rest is history.

The latest chapters of that story were written at Delta Center. And while Arizona’s part has so far been all smiles, Monson’s doesn’t have a happy ending.

Told on March 11 he wasn’t being retained after 17 years at Long Beach, Monson rallied his team to a Big West Tournament title and the program’s first NCAA bid since 2012. That made Monson and The Beach one of the many feelgood stories that come out of March Madness, with the outgoing coach comparing himself to George Costanza on Wednesday.

But the reality of that personnel decision came more into focus as it’s come to light that Long Beach doesn’t plan on giving Monson any severance or benefits going forward. That doesn’t sit right with Lloyd, who last month agreed to a 5-year extension that will pay him an average of $5.6 million a year while one of his mentors spent time this week talking about car and house payments he needs to make.

“When you sit in my position, what we put our families through, I mean, I don’t think that’s right,” Lloyd said. “That guy does not deserve that. He’s a great man. He deserves another job, another opportunity. That’s where my heart goes out to him and his family. That’s the other side. That’s the stuff we talk about. We don’t just talk about—joking about the game, the Princeton offense. We talk about the real stuff. What he and his family are going through right now is hard. There’s another side to this business. We know it’s a tough business. But still he’s got kids in college. Our jobs are pretty special, specialty based. Not a lot of them out there. I hope things go good for him because he deserves it.”

Said Monson after the Arizona loss: “It’s been a heck of a ride. I knew the car was leased. I knew this week it didn’t even have insurance to it. But I got to drive a heck of a car. I’ve got to give it back now. I’m hoping I can drive again. If I can’t, I’ll walk ‘cause I’ve got places I can go.”

Only making matters worse earlier Thursday was Long Beach State AD Bobby Smitheran trying to take credit for the run to the NCAA tourney:

Take (and make) the shots they give you

Arizona made 13 3-pointers against Long Beach State, most in an NCAA Tournament game in school history. The previous high was 11, done several times including in the 2022 First Round win over Wright State.

The Wildcats also took 35 3-point shots, most in an NCAA game and most in any game since last season’s 88-79 loss at Stanford.

“We had to really shoot some threes,” Lloyd said. “35 three-point attempts for us is a lot, but that’s what the game called for today. Our guys did a great job of knocking them down.”

Long Beach’s 3-2 zone left the corner open a lot in the first half, and Arizona made The Beach pay. It was 7 of 18 from outside before halftime, with most of those coming along the baseline.

“We watched film and that’s kind of what they were just giving us,” Caleb Love said. “That’s just on them, if they’re gonna constantly give us the open 3 we got a lot of guys that can knock the shot down. We believe in each and every one of those guys taking a shot.”

The UA was 37.1 percent from 3 and 45.9 percent from 2, with 17 missed layups on 28 attempts. Many of those were clean looks as it carved up Long Beach’s zone in a way it couldn’t in recent losses to Oregon and USC.

“We changed a few things and put emphasis more on moving without the ball, and not just waiting for the ball to find you,” Pelle Larsson said. “I think just playing it more and more, you’re gonna start figuring out. Especially with different types of zone you find different pockets. It’s just experience.”

Statistical superlatives

  • * Though it was outrebounded 50-47, Arizona had two players with double-doubles: Oumar Ballo registered his 19th of the year and 13th in the last 14 games with 11 points (on just four shots, making all of them) and 13 rebounds, while Love had a career-high 11 boards to go with 18 points and five assists.

It’s the first time the UA has had multiple players record double-doubles in an NCAA tourney game since Hassan Adams and Channing Frye did it against Oklahoma State in the 2005 Sweet 16.

  • * Ballo became the 10th player in UA history with 1,000 points and 800 rebounds, moving up the career list in both categories. He’s now 36th with 1,190 points and 10th with 812 boards, passing Sean Elliott on Thursday.

His 347 rebounds this season are 4th-most in school history, as are his 19 double-doubles. His 33 career double-doubles are one behind Michael Wright for third place in school history.

* Kylan Boswell, in addition to having a career-high 20 points, added eight assists. That’s the most dimes in an NCAA game since Nic Wise had eight in the 2nd round against Cleveland State in 2009. And with Larsson and Love each getting five assists it marked the first time the Wildcats had three with at least five assists since four did so in a 2nd round win over Gonzaga in 2014.


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