Arizona guard Pelle Larsson (3) defends against Long Beach State guard Jadon Jones (12) as he drives during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Arizona Wildcats had something to prove in the 2024 NCAA men’s basketball tournament after being knocked out by Princeton last year in round one. The Wildcats defeated 15th-seeded Long Beach State Thursday afternoon 85-65 in the first round of tournament play.

The game started with both teams making shots and competing at a high level. Arizona led 17-9 at one point in the first half, but then went scoreless for over five minutes as Long Beach went on a 13-0 run, winning 22-17. Arizona reclaimed the lead at 24-22, going on a 7-0 run. However, Long Beach State responded, making the score 31-26. Long Beach only scored two more shots as Arizona finished the half strongly with a 15-4 run.

Arizona went into halftime leading 41-35 and would open the second half scoring the first nine points, bringing the score to 50-35. Long Beach broke their scoreless streak with two free throws, but Arizona quickly responded adding five more points, including a three-pointer by senior guard Pelle Larsson, extending the lead to  55-37.

Arizona added their lead to 21 points with a three-pointer from senior guard Caleb Love, making it 65-43. Long Beach managed an 8-1 run, closing the gap to 66-51, but could not narrow it further. Sophomore guard Kylan Boswell scored a breakaway dunk making the score 75-53 and Arizona would control the rest of the game from that point.

Boswell led Arizona with 20 points and Love scored 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Junior forward Aboubacar Traore and sophomore guard A.J. George each contributed 14 points, leading Long Beach State.

. The loss marked the last game of Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson after coaching the team for 17 consecutive years. Monson reflected on his feelings after the game.

“It’s a range of emotions. Mostly proud. Proud of my tenure. I’m proud of doing it the right way. Proud of the student-athletes that came in as young men, left as men.”(

Monsoon also expressed the struggles his team had against the Wildcats.

“You have to be almost perfect in a game like this,” Monson said. “The last five minutes of the first half, first five minutes of the second half, we just didn’t play good enough.” (

Arizona will play seventh-ranked Dayton in the second round.