The Arizona Wildcats got revenge for their loss at UCLA, beating the Bruins 76-66 on Thursday night to retake first place in the Pac-12.
“I like how we responded, especially after not playing well at Pauley,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I have a ton of respect for UCLA’s program and players, and their coach and their coaching staff. So it was really cool to get them back here today and kind of be able to make some adjustments and have things kind of go our way.”
Our full recap can be found here, while below is what Lloyd said about the victory, as well as Saturday’s game against USC:
On what Arizona did differently this time against UCLA: “I think we made a lot of adjustments in the way we played. How they were guarding us, we kind of had to change some of our offensive schemes a little bit. I wanted to go inside even more than we did. We’re playing that supersized lineup more and more, there’s a real advantage for us.
“Defensively, we didn’t sit back. We were way more aggressive. It’s probably tougher shooting on the road than it is at home, but we didn’t want to sit back and let them dictate the terms like they did at UCLA. I thought we did a much better job contesting shots. Staying on their body, making it tough, tougher for them. To hold that team to 38 percent, I’m pretty happy with that.
On why this result went better: “I thought today we didn’t need to play frantic. I told our guys, hey, let’s value possession, because they’re a good defensive team, so you’re going to be deeper in possession so get comfortable being deeper possessions. We ran maybe more sets than we’ve run all year. You have to be able to win games multiple ways. I told you before, I don’t care about runs, it’s not an aesthetic for me. It’s about a result, and I love playing fast because I think it makes the game easy, but if playing fast, at Mach speed is not the right plan to win the game, well, then slow down.”
On defending UCLA’s Tyger Campbell: “It was huge, and he’s a really good player. He’s a great college guard, and probably beyond, and we did a great job making life a little tougher for him. We didn’t let him get all his little pull ups, and forced him down in the paint. He made some good plays, but he had some tough plays too. It’s really important. I mean, I thought overall our defensive effort was really good. I thought we guarded Juzang well, we did a much better job on Bernard, did a much better job on Cody Riley. Jaquez is a really good player. I thought we did decent on him, we bit on some of his fakes early. I know that kid’s a warrior, he went down with a sprained ankle last game, to come out and play 35 minutes in a high-level game and have the statline he did shows you he’s a special player.”
On the McKale Center atmosphere: “It felt the same like it did last Saturday. What I said earlier in the season, that’s the standard of what McKale can be every game. And we got to get it to a point where it’s not about the opponent, it’s about Arizona basketball, and in making it a community thing, a community event. That’s all I ask for and I’m going to give this community and this university everything I got, and I think you guys are seeing these players are doing the same.”
On Kerr Kriisa: “4 of 14, I wouldn’t call that a great shooting night. But it was better than 0 for 14. You guys have seen Kerr enough. He’s got confidence, and he’s a really good player, he can play against anybody, but he’s gaining experience, and so he’s got to continue to gain experience. I think playing at UCLA was good, it kind of gave him some battle scars, so to speak, and now he’s a little more grizzled and a little tougher, and that’s super important.”
On Dalen Terry: “He is a glue guy. I had visions all day, and I was trying to will it, that he was going to go 2 for 2 from 3 today. He was 2 for 4, that’s huge. Dalen’s worked on his shot. I mean, it might not be a Reggie Miller or anything like that, but he’s worked on a shot. When he’s open for 3, he needs to shoot a couple of them a game. I believe in that kid. But then he’s also, he’s kind of settling back down like he was early in the year where he’s playing with force but he’s playing with his feet on the ground. And then he’s making effort plays. Offensive rebound putback, a defensive rebound. He’s going up and getting it above the rim. So, Dalen’s a special kid and a special player and he deserves all the accolades that are coming his way.”
On Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson: “For a long time, I said we have seven starters. I think Oumar is making a push for eight. So I’m really proud of these guys. I met with Pelle this week. I think it was really, I think Pelle is a really good player, and he’s so unselfish, and he really wants to be like an elite passer, sometimes I think he places so much value on that, that he takes focus away from being the great all-around player he could be. He can score, he can drive, he can shoot, he can rebound at both ends of the floor. He’s an elite defender, and then you sprinkle in some passing, now you got a heck of a combination. So that’s my challenge, is to kind of help him identify the direction he needs to take his development. He seemeed like he listened tonight.”
On why Azuolas Tubelis didn’t play the final 10 minutes and Bennedict Mathurin sat a lot late in the second half: “Sometimes you sub and you just get a feel for something and you need to kind of ride it out. That lineup defensively is tough. I mean, they were getting to the rim and now you’re running into Oumar, or C-Lo’s coming from the backside. That’s tough, so you can kind of stay sticky in all your coverages.
“And I don’t know if we can say enough about C-Lo as a defender. I mean, to put a 7-foot-1 guy on the perimeter, switching screens, guarding ISO, getting through ball screens is pretty rare and pretty unique. So he gets a ton of credit, and Oumar gets a ton of credit for developing into the player he has always had the potential to be. So now that there’s value in playing both of them together.”
On what he was thinking when the lead shrunk late in the second half: “What’s going through my mind is, win the game by one. We’ve got to make one more plays than these guys, so I’m not going to panic, I’m not going to get caught up in it. What do we need to do you try to come down and have a good offensive possession. You found a way to put points on the board to keep your cushion, and getting in the bonus is a huge part of that.”
On going 20 of 30 from the foul line: “I think overall we’ve been a decent free throw shooting team. I’m super happy our big guys, Oumar and C-Lo have kind of developed into solid free throw shooters, because that huge because they get fouled a lot, so I’m not concerned at all. At the end of the day, we made 20 and they attempted 12. The old formula is if you’re making more than they’re attempting, that’s usually a pretty good sign.”
On his message to the team in the postgame locker room: “I’m proud of you, I love you, and the reward you get is you get a really good USC team coming in here. And I’m serious. It’s a gift. It’s a gift to have another really good team coming in here on Saturday. That’s what it takes. I’m not even worried about the league standings, I’m worried about 40 minutes against USC. And in order to be a great team in the NCAA tournament, you got to beat one good team on Thursday, you got to beat another better team on Saturday. And I’m not saying they’re better than UCLA, but they’re right at that level. So it’s an honor, and this will be a great experience for us.”
On what this win proves: “I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m just trying to coach basketball, and help these guys be the best team they can be and I’m trying to build this program to be the best program it can be. So I wasn’t out to prove anything today. I don’t know if our players were out to prove anything today. I think everybody knows we’re a good team. If you ask all of the coaches that played against us, I would assume there’s consensus that we’re pretty good.”
On planning for USC: “I was working on SC this morning, it doesn’t mean that I’m not focused on UCLA. After a while, you look at something so much you can talk yourself out of doing it. So once you kind of settle in on your plan, trust it, believe in it and then our guys have to start working on the next one. We got to have a good day of prep tomorrow. We got a really good team. I think they lost three times. We’re gonna have our hands full.”
On USC: “It’s an experienced team, they made the Elite Eight last year. They got some high-level guards who have experienced. They have high-level big guys that got experience. Just a really, really good team, that’s why their records is as good as it is.”