Arizona reached the 100-point mark for the second time this season, cruising past Belmont late Friday night at McKale Center. The Wildcats play again on Sunday, against UT-Arlington, a short turnaround after having multiple days off between the first three games.
“I’m excited,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I can’t wait to get back on the court with these guys tomorrow. We got to a UTA team that looks like they’re playing spirited with a lot of energy, and really battled New Mexico on the road. We got a 1-day prep and we really haven’t done anything to prepare for them. So tomorrow is going to be a big day of getting ready to go and hopefully coming out and playing well Sunday.”
Our recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd, Caleb Love and Motiejus Krivas said about the victory:
Lloyd on Krivas’ career-high 20 points with 9 rebounds: “Big Mo played good. Oumar (Ballo) has been a little bit banged up, nothing crazy, so he kind of got off to a little bit of a slower start, and I think Mo came in and there played really well. It’s his fourth college game. I feel really comfortable with him on the court, and I’m glad to see our guys continue to get confidence in him in game moments, and him to get confidence in himself. think he’s going to be a great player. What he did today, once he got going, really didn’t surprise me.
On if he purposely pulled Krivas and Love once they got to 20 points: “I didn’t even know what they had. It was just time to get on to the next guy.”
On if the balanced scoring is sustainable: “We’re playing a lot of guys right now. We have guys that are capable of scoring 20, no doubt in my mind about that. We have multiple guys who have scored 20 in games, so we’ll see how that plays out over the over the course of the year. But I think our strength is going to be in numbers and depth, and hopefully our guys really buy into that and stay consistent with that over the course of the season.”
On having fewer turnovers than the previous game: “We’re an aggressive team, so when you’re aggressive, sometimes you’re gonna make mistakes. We addressed some of the stuff on film, and I thought our guys did a good job maybe tempering down some of their decisions a little bit. We’ll continue to work on that, but what we don’t want to do is we don’t want to get conservative.”
On giving up 12 3-pointers to Belmont: “To be honest with you, they have not shot the ball well this year. So we kind of picked our poison on a few things. We did a really good job just with our activity defensively. They’re a system team, and they have kind of a pattern-based offense they run, and we did a pretty good job getting them out of it. But within those patterns and lots of little reads and wrinkles, and they’re good at running them. They’re probably better at running them and maybe we are guarding it sometimes, but I thought our effort and energy were pretty good. And I thought maybe sometimes the only shot to get there some of those threes, and sometimes when the only shots you’re getting those threes, you make a few of them, and it feels good. But I also know they made a few to start the game. I think three of their first four baskets were threes, then they missed a few and I think we went on an 18-0 run. So it’s just kind of how the game breaks.”
On Love having a breakout game: “I told him I love the way this has started, because it hasn’t come easy. Things that come easy aren’t really worth it. Just because he transferred to Arizona and changed uniforms and coasts doesn’t mean it’s going to come easy. But I was really proud of the effort he was playing with, because I felt like he was establishing the standard of effort for himself that was higher than he had done previously. And that was the number one thing for me,and I told him if you stay true to that your moments are going to come. And I don’t know when they’re going to be, but you’re going to have these explosive-type moments and he did tonight. I think you guys saw in that stretch what he’s capable of. It was great stuff for me, since he kind of got on a roll and then maybe took a hard shot or two and I said hey, let us create your next shot. I think if you can understand that, even when you want a heat check, maybe get a good heat check. Those will be great things for him and I to continue to talk about, but it was fun to watch him kind of get rolling tonight.”
On Love adding six assists with only one turnover: “He’s one of our better playmakers. He can really make decisions and puts a lot of pressure on defenses. I was really happy with him in the second half with some of the reads and the decisions he made.”
On empty seats at McKale the first few games: “For one, I’m thankful for the fans coming out today. I know it’s a 9 pm game on a Friday and there’s a lot going on. One of the gaps we still have to grow in our program is, we have a lot of season ticket holders, and I’m thankful for the ones that come. But we had a lot that still aren’t coming, and I don’t know why. My message to the fans would be, we’re thankful for their season tickets, we’re thankful for their support. This isn’t a money grab, okay? This is an energy grab. And we need more effort and energy out of some of our season ticket holders that have tickets. Whether they have to move them to their friends, give them back to the school for someone else to go. We need people that have season tickets to make sure people are sitting in the those seats during games. That will be by ask for the fans. Being a little bit nitpicky, but hey, we coach our team with high standards. I think we should have high standards for our fans, too, because this is one of the most special places to play in the country. We need to double down on that and really take those next steps.
On his message to fans for Sunday’s game: “Find a way to get down here. This is a special group of guys, we got a special program, come be a part of it. The coolest thing in life is being part of a group that’s participating with great athletes, and our fans can do the same thing. The fans that came did a great job tonight, but let’s get those fans that have season tickets, I hope they’re feeling guilty for not coming and maybe not moving them to a friend, because this is a special place. There’s so many people in this community that would want the opportunity to come here, and they maybe can’t afford it, or don’t know there are tickets available. Let’s make sure those people are included in our program.”
On selling out a game but still not having it full: “There’s a gap between our season ticket holders that have tickets and actual people that are scanning tickets and coming to the game. That’s the gap we need to fill. Obviously, you always want to sell every ticket possible, and in our program, for the most part we do a great job over the course of the season doing that. But we also need to make this an incredible experience, and the more people that want to come participate in it, the better experience it’s going to be. So I just want to see those people that have season tickets that aren’t coming, let’s figure out why. You have tickets, you spent the money, thank you. Of course we need revenue, but we also need energy and atmosphere. Those types of things are important, too. It’s great here, it’s one of the best in the country. Why not take the next step and put it over the top and make it the best? And that needs to be the standard.”
Love on his performance: “I was a little bit more aggressive coming into this game, just trying to find an easy way to get my teammates involved and let the game come to me. The floor was opened up a little bit more, because our offense is really fast and you know opens up a lot of things for all of us.”
On the balanced attack: “We got a lot of weapons on this team and so anybody can get to it any given night. Just knowing that, it’s hard to guard us.”
Krivas on his performance: “The coaches and teammates trust me, I just try to deliver. The previous games I missed some layups and shots, today I made them.”
On dealing with defenders slapping at the ball: “It’s really hard to get adjusted to it. It’s way different from what I used to play.”
On what he’s learned from Oumar Ballo: “He’s a really good player. He gives me lessons. Every practice he tries to help me. It’s really good that I have someone like him. In post, just to stay physical. On defense, not to react on shot fakes.”
On having another Lithuanian on the team in Paulius Murauskas: “It’s really helpful to have someone who first speaks your language, and second and most important he’s a really good friends. It really helps to have him.”