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What Tommy Lloyd said after Arizona’s season-opening win over Nicholls

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Arizona’s season opener against Nicholls was one for the record books, with the Wildcats setting a single-game record for field goal percentage (71.7) while scoring their most points in 24 years in a 117-75 victory.

“Well, I didn’t expect that,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said to open his postgame press conference. “And that’s being serious, it’s not a joke. Nicholls is a tough team, they led their conference two times in a row.”

Our full recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd said about the game:

On dealing with Nicholls’ pressure: “Just that style they play, it’s just kind of relentless. And they’re so handsy and going for steals, and they’re not afraid to foul. They can’t call (all the) fouls . So for us to kind of weather that storm and handle it the way we did and win with that margin, I think it says something about this group.”

On if he thought Arizona could win big if it handled Nicholls’ pressure: “I honestly had no thoughts like that at all. I thought it was gonna be a hard game, and I told our guys before, like, we need to be mature, and at the end of the day we just got to win. If it’s ends up being a hard ballgame it’s gonna be a hard ballgame. I don’t want our guys to feel like they have to win by any certain margin or anything like that. I just wanted to make sure we came out and kind of set a standard. I think a lot of ways we did, in some ways we’ve got to get better.”

On committing 24 turnovers: “I make that it’s not very good. Definitely stuff we got to clean up. We tried to warn the guys. If you saw that went we weren’t casual we were pretty efficient. So we need to hone in on that. Some of the turnovers I think some of our younger guys had and they just never played in a game like that. For them to get that experience and learn from it, it’s gonna be a positive.”

On being casual with the ball: “It could be lazy passes, it could be (a) lazy catch. You can’t relax and let your guard down. They’re gonna go for a steal or a swipe at the ball every opportunity.”

On Kylan Boswell’s debut: “I thought Kylan played really well. Second half we was better than the first, kind of settled in. Kylan is a really good basketball player. The practicing was kind of hit or miss there for a while. He’s kind of only been full steam ahead only the last two weeks. The Courtney (Ramey) situation kind of thrust him into maybe an opportunity earlier than expected, and I thought he handled it great. Kerr (Kriisa) getting two fouls early gave him an opportunity and I thought he handled it really well.”

On Kerr Kriisa’s foul trouble: “Speaking of Kerr’s two fouls, he and Pelle (Larsson) gotta be smart. That’s two games in a row that two of our better guards have two fouls before the first media timeout. That’s not a winning formula. So we got to kinda address that.”

On Adama Bal: “He’s really coming on. He’s really coming on. He kind of got off to a slow start in the fall. He kind of twisted his ankle, and ever since then, he’s been really good. Even at the end of our Saint Mary’s scrimmage he played really well. And then obviously the last two games he’s played well. I give that kid credit, when he got back I really challenged him to change his shot. I didn’t get a ton of time with him this summer because he was with his national team, and he looked at me like I was a little bit crazy. I just saw some things in there that I thought we had to address. To his credit, he’s put into work. He’s believed in it and he hung with it when it wasn’t easy or wasn’t going well.”

On Bal injuring his shoulder: “They just told me he could play. He came back and played okay, I think.”

On Azuolas Tubelis: “Zu scores easy, and he’s built to play in this system. He’s so great in the open court running.He’s getting really efficient inside, and I really challenged him to improve his catch I think is his numbers are good, but I think they can be great. And so we’re really making a push with him. This week I got on him earlier in the week about being a little more efficient making his layups. I thought he’s been getting us off to a good start, and a lot of it is making early layups.”

On Pelle Larsson: “He’s relentless. He’s got great energy. He’s very tenacious, and I just need him to kind of reel it in. He’s such a good player, I just don’t need him to try to make four hard plays a role. He did that in the second half and we sat him. He understands, you can coach him hard and talk very direct to him. He’s such a good player. I think if he could just to kind of tone it down a little with some of the aggressive plays, kind of just mix them in here and there, as I think they’ll be a little more successful.”

On the shot selection: “When you play a team like that, you literally just have to kind of break through the pane of glass that’s out there on the perimeter, just from the pressure. Once you break through, you’re going to have number advantages. Three-on-twos, two-on-ones. You just got to make simple plays. It’s not maybe how you normally see us move the ball, because normally will really move it side to side. A game like that it’s hard, because you throw one pass and the next one is denied. So eventually you gotta go north-south. Obviously we love attacking high low and playing inside. I think some of our turnovers tonight were in our high-low action, we probably can get a little more patient, look at that and figure out where the help is coming from, and skip it to the open guy.”

On having 30 assists: “I love assists. I think assists create easy baskets. It’s not something we talk about on a day to day basis, but I think our guys for the most part believe in playing team basketball and sharing. I think they really enjoy making that extra pass and getting an open shot.”

On Tubelis and Oumar Ballo combining for 10 assists: “It makes you efficient because a lot of times you’re giving the the ball to your bigs, they have like a one man advantage or half a man advantage. If you have your big guys that can connect the dots on some of those plays, you can do a lot of fun things. And they also play really well together. That’s something we take pride in and we work on every day. I’m just really proud of both, they both have really come so far and just, not only scoring around the basket, but they feel a little more comfortable making decisions with the ball. Especially Oumar, you see how much more confident he looks with the ball in his hands.”

On if a win like this has any significance beyond that night: “It’s early. I hope Nicholls has a great year. I’m a paranoid coach, so I’m sitting there thinking about what we’ve got to do to get better. We’ve got another team coming in here Friday that’s probably going to present some different types of challenges. I’m kind of locked into my day by day, game by game mode right now. I’m gonna figure out what tomorrow looks like when I get home tonight.”

On the uncertainty of the first game: “Winning, it’s not easy. It’s not anything you should ever take for granted. These rosters are so in flux in college basketball today that, I think as a coach you want to actually see your team do it on the floor. And then once you go there, there’s two categories: things we did well, we need to continue to reinforce and do well, and things we need to get better at. And you don’t get any more complicated than that. And you hammer both categories. That’s how you build consistency.”

On scoring the most points since 1998: “I think our opponent had a lot to do with that today, and they wanted to get up and down. And you guys know, I’m more than comfortable to get up and down. For me, I think it’s really going to reinforce that when you play with fundamentals and do things the right way we can be really, really good.”

On setting the single-game shooting record: “Awesome, but let’s not couple it with 24 turnovers. We work on finishing every single day. To shoot 71 percent and also attempt 40 free throws, I think that means we’re for the most part executing our game plan.”