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What Tommy Lloyd, Benn Mathurin and Oumar Ballo said after Arizona’s win at ASU

Syndication: Arizona Republic Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Arizona Wildcats overcame an early first half deficit to come away with a dominant 91-79 win over rival ASU in Tempe Monday night. Our recap of the game can be found here. After the game, coach Tommy Lloyd, Benn Mathurin and Oumar Ballo spoke to the media. Here’s what they said.

Lloyd on his overall impression of the game: “It felt like a rock fight to me. They came out and obviously they’re riding a high from a great win versus UCLA and they punched us, man. The game was physical from the tip and our guys quite weren’t ready to go. We had to kind of lock it in. And you know what? I’m really proud of them, though. That’s a gut check win in a tough environment against a rival and you’re down 14-1 and you can just say it’s not your day, and our guys bounced back. I told him one point we’re gonna win this thing by 20. We were right there to do that.”

Lloyd on Ballo’s performance off the bench: “I think first off, let’s just take a step back and think about his last couple weeks and how special it’s been. Now we’re counting on him to do those things. Before we were hoping. It’s a great place to be as a program when you have guys developing from underneath. To me, that’s how you build a sustainable, high level program. Oumar gets 100% of the credit and the coaching staff for hanging with him.”

Lloyd on opponents playing Arizona with a fast place: “Yeah, I love it, but I think we got to make that happen. I told our guys, if you want to run, you can’t run like 70% and think it’s gonna get in an up or down game. You got to run it 100%. I think once we got it kind of going in the first half a little bit and the start the second half, we got a couple of transition ones and I think the guys had some success on them and got excited. Then they wanted to run more.”

Lloyd on the offense when Azuolas Tubelis is performing at his best: “Zu is a really high level player. I’ve always thought there’s advantages to every lineup and when you can have two bigs in there and obviously we got our supersize lineup, our normal big lineup, and then our small lineup. We’re kind of able to kind of go in and out of throughout the game. When you can have two big guys on the floor dominating in and around the paint, it’s a real weapon. Zu is back to running. You saw him today, when he runs like that, he’s the best running big man in the country.”

Lloyd on Pelle Larsson’s performance: “Pelle is coming on. I’ve had some talks with him, and I think his next step is, and he started to take it, is score double figures. And if you fall into a couple of assists, great. But don’t try to get five assists and then only score four points. I want 10, 12, 15 points and then two, three assists. So when he came out and made those threes and kind of closed that gap early, it was him and Oumar and Justin (Kier) came in. Those three guys off the bench are great. And they came in and really changed the game.”

Lloyd on getting into Kerr Kriisa in the first half: “I pulled Kerr aside and I just told him, ‘I’m putting you back in the game.’ I felt like the end of these halves, the lead, we’ve got a little lead slip or a little mini 4-0 run happened And we did it again. It’s something we got to be better at. Controlling these things down there. I don’t know why whatever happened happened but it just can’t. We can’t have turnovers that lead to dunks and then come down and not get a shot up at the last 10 seconds."

Lloyd on Kriisa handling criticism well: “I told our staff, ‘listen, I don’t come into these games wanting to get upset.’ But when in the heat of the moment you got to do what you got to do to get your team in the right spot, and I just felt like that certain things happened from us and maybe a call here or there that I needed to get our guys’ attention and our guys have been doing a great job. They’ve all been doing a great job responding to that. I love those guys. And I tell them every time the reason I’m on you guys like that is because I love you. And I don’t want to do it 24/7.”

Lloyd on whether ASU looked fatigued as the game wore on: “We just told our guys, part of competing is taking easily accessible excuses and not making them available. They played a triple overtime game, so you want to get an up and down game. Maybe they reach in their back pocket and pull up that excuse, and we wanted to test it and create a little bit of adversity.”

Lloyd on whether he was upset with Kriisa at halftime: “I was upset maybe at how the half ended the last minute and a half or so. But I was happy with how he responded to the initial deal. Yeah, I went in and reminded the guys forcefully of a few things, and they came out and obviously at the start of the second half, that looked like that team in early December, which is special.”

Lloyd on how we would describe the 3-game stretch against UCLA, USC and ASU: “I forgot about those other two already. This was our battle tonight, and I’m going to get on the bus and maybe rewatch a little bit of this one, pick up a thing or two and plug in Washington State. We’re ready for that. We’re onward and upward.”

Lloyd on Mathurin’s outing: “Benn had a good look tonight. Once he got going in there he had a good look about him and when he has that look, he’s special. He found things in transition. He found things with effort. Hunted some 3s and I was 100% satisfied with his effort.”

Lloyd on the significance of the next couple days off: “We’re gonna get some rest as much as we can. I tell our guys, ‘listen, pretty soon here in the Pac-12 Tournament, if you want to have a chance to win it, you got to play it three consecutive days. So you should be ready to play tomorrow. Luckily we don’t have to and you can rest a little bit. But the mentality needs to be recover like you’re gonna play tomorrow. We just got to build that mentality.”

Mathurin on the message when down 16-3 early: “Basically just a fresh start. We knew we were gonna come, we knew we were gonna get some big shots. The message was that they were ready so just have to be ready and come out.”

Mathurin on the fast pace tempo of the game: “It was pretty fun. It’s what we do in practice. Coach makes us run. It was really fun to take it through the game and do what we do.”

Mathurin on the contribution of the bench: “It’s pretty big to be honest. I was kind of tired so having a first player come into the game and putting impact, Oumar, Pelle and Justin all having an impact on the shape when it comes. It’s pretty amazing to have.”

Ballo on his energy off the bench: “Every day we practice like that. I always try to bring energy in practice and games and when I saw the team was down, me and Pelle and Justin, we have to step up to bring the energy, to bring our confidence back, and we did it perfect.”

Ballo on what Lloyd told him early in the first half: “He was telling me to go and change the game because he didn’t like the way we were playing and he said was disappointed in the game and was telling me to go and change the game.”

Ballo on the crowd atmosphere: It was great. “We are really glad to have those guys having our backs every day. They came out tonight and we felt it and we really needed it and it was awesome to have them.”

Ballo on why he’s improved in conference play: “Patience, honestly. I was trying to find my own way. Once we got started in the Pac-12 I started feeling my own way and doing my own stuff. It’s working out perfectly for the team and for myself.”

Mathurin on Ballo’s improved confidence: “We’re always trying to give confidence to our players. Seeing Oumar doing well is pretty amazing. It makes me really happy because I’ve known Oumar for a long time. “

Mathurin on Tubelis’ competitiveness: “He’s great. He’s amazing. Every time he steps out on the court he’s trying to kill. He goes out there and plays really well. That’s what the team needs.”