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What Tommy Lloyd, Kerr Kriisa and Benn Mathurin said after Arizona’s win over Illinois

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats rallied from 13 points down to defeat Illinois 83-79 on the road Saturday and remain undefeated. Our recap of the game can be found here.

After the game, Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd spoke on the radio and Kerr Kriisa and Benn Mathurin addressed the media to discuss the Wildcats’ big road victory. Here’s what they said.

Lloyd on how he would describe the game: “Bareknuckle boxing. It was knock down drag out and we knew it was going to be. I think we’re built for those and I think we get a little experience playing in those and it is really going to help us and make us better. It’s really cool we were able to come out on top and learn from a win.”

Kriisa on his overall impression of the win: “It was a long game. It was a hard game. We were battling every second of the game and it came down to little turnovers, little stops in the end and we managed to do it better. I think that was the key to win.”

Mathurin on what was said after Illinois’ massive first half run: “I just feel like we needed to play a type of basketball. Play Arizona. Sometimes I feel like it was pretty hard to call to call plays so Kerr just took the roll of point guard usually and he be like ‘yo, let’s go guys. Let’s playing basketball. Just hoop.’”

Mathurin on Arizona slowing down Kofi Cockburn: “In my opinion we have the best bigs in the country. I want to be like that, but I think with practice we be working really hard. Our bigs are pretty comfortable. Our gameplan was pretty good and I just feel like we had the right gamplan to get him off his game.”

Lloyd on how Arizona tailored its defense around Cockburn: “We have to do a better job on the threes, but like I told you, there’s a little bit of a give and take with threes. Kofi is so big and so strong and we did an amazing job. We changed our double plan with fake doubling and then we didn’t and then we were able to contest a couple of his shots and even block them. It kind of frustrated him and then the twos he made he just lowered his shoulder. I don’t know what else you can do, so it was pretty tough. Great defense and that’s how you win these games. They’re a good team and they surround him with good shooters and they shoot it quick and they shoot it willing and today they were going in on their home court.”

Mathurin on what’s driven his latest scoring outburst: “Just feel like trusting my teammates. I felt like coming out of the season I had to do it by myself but it’s about trusting my teammates. Me trusting them also that they can find me and I’m gonna find them. The goal is to win so if I get 20 points or I score five points, all I want to do is win.”

Lloyd on Kriisa’s second half shooting: “Amazing. I remember when I first got the job and I was watching him shoot layups and floaters and he literally couldn’t make one. He didn’t make them last year. I said, ‘Hey it is going to take some time, but we have to attack it, work on it, and we kind of have to work on a plan and I will give you some ideas.’ At the end of the day, you have to make your own little package, something you’re comfortable with. He has really honed in on it, the staff has done an amazing job helping him.”

Kriisa on adjusting offensively as the game wore on: ”When I was playing pick and roll with Kofi he was staying down low so I should have figured it out earlier in the game but in the second half they were a little bit more passive on me because I think that they didn’t really I think I’m going to do anything. I saw the chance and I tried to get us going.”

Lloyd on the significance of Arizona’s 3-point shooting: “When a team is going to plug ball screens and keep their big down low like that, you have to make some of those. Those were amazing.”

Lloyd on playing in a tough road environment: “(We played well) In stretches and in other stretches I thought it bothered us a little bit, which it would,” Lloyd said. “This place has an amazing environment here today and the fans came for blood. We were bloodied up, but we were able to be the last man standing.”

Kriisa on whether Arizona fed off the hostile road environment: “I think we love it considering our personalities. Of course when you say something or do something, you got to back it up. Last game against Wyoming we had a lot of fun at home. I’m sure (Illinois) watched the film, they were like, ‘yo, there’s no chance they’re going to do this stuff in our house.’ So we just got to know whatever we do, we got to back it up. And I think we have a tough enough team that we can do it.”

Kriisa on whether the team had fun winning on the road: “I’m sure all of us had tons of fun starting from the coaches, players, managers, walk-ons, our fans, my mom. So yeah, I think we all had a lot of fun today.”

Mathurin on playing at Illinois’s arena: “I would say it was pretty fun to be honest. It was a lot of fans. We were still undefeated into Illinois. We have a pretty good team. And they were trying to take us down. We won the game. So I just feel like when we come back to McKale it has to be full again.”