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What Tommy Lloyd, Pelle Larsson and Courtney Ramey said after Arizona’s win over No. 6 Tennessee

arizona-wildcats-college-basketball-tennessee-volunteers-tommy-lloyd-pelle-larsson-courtney-ramey Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Arizona picked up another huge win on Saturday night, knocking off No. 6 Tennessee in a rematch of last December’s game in Knoxville.

“Tennessee’s obviously a great team, and I think they’re gonna be really good this year,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said afterward. “For as good as they played early, I don’t think they’ve totally hit their stride yet. Hopefully we haven’t either, but I can see a lot of potential on that team. For us to get us to get a W against a team like that, it’s a great night.”

Our full recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd, Pelle Larsson and Courtney Ramey had to saw afterward.

Lloyd on playing against a physical opponent: “We’re a physical team, too. They’re really handsy defensively, and I thought we were at times almost too tentative. Some of those passes when we got out past the 3-point line, I was holding my breath a couple of times. You got to fight force with force, it’s really the only way to do it. It makes it a lot easier to show the fouls. I thought we put a lot of our pressure on them, and our guys did a good job overall. We took a lot of threes, which is maybe not as characteristic for us, I would have loved for a few more of them to go down, but just wasn’t that kind of nice. It’s different ways to win. To be able to get to the free throw line and make free throws like we did is huge.”

On the key to the win: “We hung in there. We hung in there, we didn’t panic. They made a little run on us in the first half and we got back into it. In the second half I thought we kind of were a little more methodical and weren’t as panicky. And listen, we got to get better. We got to get better offensively. I think this is going to be a great teaching tool for us, but to teach after a win versus Tennessee is a pretty good problem.”

On Oumar Ballo and Azuolas Tubelis combining for 37 points and 17 rebounds: “Oumar and Zu, I mean, we got to get that out of them every night, no matter how they guard us. And they’re a force in there, you just don’t see that type of one-two punch in there. Those two are dominant guys, and you’re probably going to go back and wish we would have gotten them the ball a little bit more.”

On the bench not scoring: “It’s just one of those days. I don’t have a set formula, where I’m like, I need this many points from my bench or this or that. I just want to score more than the other team. And once you get in the heat of battle, figuring that out ... sometimes I gotta get out of the way, you know what I mean? To be honest with you, and other times I got to try to put them in the right place, so it’s a little bit of more of an art than a science. But these guys are are good basketball players. I’m excited we won and I’m excited to get better from this. I thought Henri (Veesaar) kind of got in there his second run, and he stepped up a little bit. We just need continued growth out of (him).”

On Pelle Larsson: “For him to go out and get (eight) rebounds in that game, I’ve been on him, I’ve been on him, I’ve been on him. Rebounding needs to be at the top of his job (list). I think he was cramping up or something (in the) second half, and I kind of kept looking the other way, because I felt like we needed him out there. We needed his his force and his ability to kind of get in the paint, and when he takes that next step and sort of trusts in himself to slow down in there and play on two feet and use his space, set someone up, or make a little 4- or 5-foot shot, I think he’s gonna really take off.”

On Larsson drawing 10 fouls: “The word I use a lot is force, and he plays with force. When they’re that aggressive on the perimeter you have to go at them. If you go at them and there’s two hands on you, or a hand check or a hip check, those are fouls, and fortunately they call them tonight. So for him to draw 10 fouls, I didn’t realize that, that’s a significant stat.”

On if this was the biggest win of the year: “It was a great win, but you know what the biggest game is? (The next one). That’s how we’re taking it. Hey, we have a Montana State team coming here that might be as good as any of these guarantee-type games we played all year, and we play them in less than 48 hours. So we got to grow as a group, I’m not just saying that. Our competitive maturity needs to be at a high level, we have two more games before Christmas. Let’s knock them out one by one, if you find a way to do that, you had a heck of a preseason.”

On the importance of the home court: “Obviously, it’s very significant. There’s statistics to back it up. You’re better at home usually than you are on the road, and the road team usually is not as good on the road as they are at home. Last year, we got punched at Tennessee, and we got ourselves back in the game, we showed some grit but we dug too big of a hole. This game was a little more even, but it was a balanced matchup.”

On Kerr Kriisa: “His timing might have been a little off, he didn’t really do anything in practice until Friday. Kerr isn’t really on the top of my worry list. I mean, I trust him. I thought he has had some good looks tonight that didn’t go down. That (Zakai) Zeigler kid, when he crawls up into you, he’s a problem. He’s an elite on-ball defender, so I think Kerr had his hands full.”

On Tubelis rebounding from last year’s poor performance at Tennessee: “Zu has been tremendously consistent all year. Even at the end of the game, we were kind of making a run and he threw like kind of a tough high-low pass to Henri ... Henri is doing a lot of things well, I don’t know if we need to put him in that position. I told him, just take a breath, slow down and be the best player. You don’t have to hit any home runs out here. He probably didn’t even know what that means. But yeah, but last year, he didn’t feel good (at Tennessee), got in foul trouble and, so we kind of had to try to find a way to hang in the game without him.”

On wanting to play home-and-home series against elite teams: “They’re tough to get. We definitely are having conversations with teams right now. I think they’re great for our program. They’re great for our fans. But again, I know everyone wants Tennessee at Arizona, every game, but it’s just not how it is in college basketball. We obviously have a bunch of great home games coming up in our conference season. I think we’ve done the best job we could kind of mixing and matching our schedule to be the best for this team.”

On Arizona’s defense: “I thought we rotated good. I don’t think it was our best, but I think we hung with our plan. We were sticky on those guys on screens, and they didn’t get a lot of rhythm looks. I was a little bit disappointed in our post defense today, but they do this thing, basically we call it a butt screen to a duck in, and they do that really well in transition. They kind of caught us on the high side three times and got layups, that just shouldn’t happen against us. So we have room to grow. They’ve been shooting 40 for the year, so we let them have one of their better nights of the season.”

On Arizona’s offense: “At the end of the day, it’s all about finding a way to get a result. To score 40 points on that team in a half, I mean, no one’s done that.”

On having a 27-10 advantage in free throw attempts: “I knew it was going to be a way we might be able to score, if we can get in the bonus, and then stay aggressive offensively with a ton of foul pressure on them. You pound the ball inside to those bigs, you drive closeouts, I mean it’s hard to play against.”

On Ballo going 6 for 7 at the line after struggling lately: “I’m sure Larry Bird had a day where he wasn’t 6 for 7. It was great. I tell you guys how happy I am because we won, but hey, we’re at the middle of a journey, but there’s not a lot of time to reflect. But to see him step up and hit two big free throws at the end of the game, it gives us confidence, because we need him on the floor defensively at the end of the game. We needed a rebound at the end of the game. When you close out those games, it’s a luxury when your best defensive players and rebounders can also (hit free throws).”

Larsson on how physical the game was: “It was physical, we knew it was going to be considering the game last year, so I think we were ready for it this time. We were ready for it and we acted like it.”

On getting to the line: “I think it was for sure a focus to draw fouls this game, especially for our big guys, which we did. And then also just getting to the line is easy points and puts the other team in trouble. So it’s always something that we’re looking to do.”

On winning a lower-scoring game (by Arizona standards): “I think it just shows our versatility. Obviously we want to run and score a lot of points. Where were we at, 75? That’s alright for college, but we want to be in the 90s, that’s our goal. We always want to get up and down, and I think a lot of teams are making adjustments and so are we.”

Ramey on the physicality: “I’m used to playing games like that. I’ve played in a lot of those games, we played them last year when I was at Texas, so I kind of know what to expect when we were playing them here. They’re a great team. They fought back and they made it an interesting game. I’m just proud of the growth that we’ve made and how we responded to their run in the last four minutes, and it just showed our growth and the potential of our team. I think the biggest thing is, we covered up for each other. Just had a next-play mentality.”

On not overlooking the two pre-Christmas opponents: “We know the team that we play next is a great team, so we’re going to treat them like any other game. These next two games are the most important games. We’re going to give them the same respect that we gave Tennessee, and anybody that we play.”

On the postgame kerfuffle: “Oh, I was just having a little fun.”