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What Tommy Lloyd, Kerr Kriisa and Azuolas Tubelis said after Arizona’s win over Oregon

arizona-wildcats-tommy-lloyd-azuolas-tubelis-kerr-kriisa-oregon-ducks-postgame-pac12-2023-mckale Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

It was nearly a record-setting night for Azuolas Tubelis, whose 40 points were not just a career high but also one shy of Al Fleming’s school record at McKale Center. Even more importantly, Arizona (20-3, 9-3 Pac-12) avenged an earlier loss to Oregon in winning for the fifth straight game.

“We got the result we were hoping for,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said after the 91-76 win. “Oregon’s a heck of a team. Anytime you beat a team that talented, home or away, it’s a good thing for your program.”

Our full recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd, Tubelis and Kerr Kriisa said after the victory.

On Tubelis: “Zu was spectacular tonight. Just the way the ball was coming off his hand tonight was something special. You just don’t see it every day. Probably the equivalent of watching a great pitcher, you could just see sometimes how that ball snaps out of their fingers and you know it’s just one of those nights. You don’t get to experience that very often, so I’m really proud of Zu. And the coolest part is he had a bunch of family and friends here from Lithuania. So maybe we need to keep them here.”

On if he’s seen a game like that before: “I remember a guy named Adam Morrison who had seven or eight of those.”

On keeping the lead at 10 or more all 2nd half: “Oregon really battled that second half, they didn’t make it easy. They could have they could have wilted but they didn’t, so it was good. We had to hang in there and make a bunch of plays under duress, kind of uncomfortable sometimes nursing that leads is not the easiest thing. I’m super proud of our guys for really adhering to a game plan and doing a good job on that.”

On Arizona’s defense: “Our defense wasn’t perfect, but it was really good in certain stretches.”

On having 8 steals and getting 19 points off Oregon’s 12 turnovers: “We have guys that I think are capable of playing that way. I want them to turn themselves loose, within the framework of what we’re trying to do. I thought for the most part we did a good job. We held them to 41 percent. It felt like in the second half they made more, maybe they missed some down the stretch there. But yeah, we want to be more aggressive defensively and start possessions aggressively.”

On the difference between this game and the 87-68 loss at Oregon: “I think up there, playing on the road stuff. And obviously, playing playing at Oregon when they’re dialed in is hard. They kind of came off a crazy last Arizona State where they just got hammered. And I knew ... us coaches are creating a lot of things in our minds, but I knew it was gonna be really tough. Dana’s a great coach, he’s going to be on them, and they came out and they really responded. They played with tremendous effort at home, and we didn’t you know. Sometimes that happens on the road. Disappointing, because I think we have a style of basketball that travels really well and plays well on the road, and it didn’t that day. To be honest with you, after we lost that game, I wasn’t even that upset. Obviously I’m not happy, but I went through it and I was able to kind of cleanse myself pretty quick. When we lost against Washington State here I didn’t feel good, that one took me a little longer to get over, but that up there, we kind of chalked it up to we played a desperate team that played really well. Tonight I wanted to make sure that we were kind of matching that desperation.”

On if he was aware how close Tubelis was to the McKale scoring record: “No, my SID is well informed not to tell me anything. It’s like a pitcher having a no-hitter. I don’t need to know about records.”

On why Tubelis looked so much better than the previous Oregon game: “I just think Zu’s activity was better, and I think our guys found him. I mean a lot of those baskets, if you watch in the first half, is him just moving a few feet here, moving a few feet there, kind of presenting himself, and our guys found him in some open pockets. And then like I said, just the way the ball was coming out of his hand tonight it felt like everything he was shooting was going in, not even hitting the rim. He just had one of those nights.”

On Tubelis’ ability to get to the line: “If you’re generally scoring around the basket, usually you’re going to be in tight space. You’re not going to get too many just wide open layups. So when you’re in tight space, there’s contact, and more fouls being called. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that.”

On Tubelis having 5 and-ones: “That’s pretty impressive. The old-fashioned way.”

On similarities to Domantas Sabonis, and if Tubelis is an NBA player: “Obviously, Lithuanian, lefty, men of few words. There’s definitely some some similarities, but I don’t think it’s fair at this point to compare Zu, just because you look at Domas in the NBA and he’s an All-Star. I definitely know in my mind Zu is an NBA player, and I’ve coached a couple. He’s an NBA player, the way he moves and runs, and just that effortlessness he can play with at a high level is pretty special. But there are a lot of similarities. It’s hard to guard left-handed guys. Domas is probably a little more physical and more of a rebounding force, and Zu is probably a better runner and things of that nature.”

On Kerr Kriisa: “I thought Kerr really controlled the game. What, he had seven assists, two turnovers. Up there, Kerr got into foul trouble, which was a huge part of that game, and we ended up with some lineups that probably weren’t the best lineups to have. Kerr picked up his third foul diving for a loose ball in the first half, it a coach’s nightmare, and then I think we gave up like almost a 10-point lead down the stretch of (the first half). I thought he did a really good job controlling the game and managing their defenses and how they were guarding ball screens and making a lot of good decisions. And then we talk a lot about those threes at the end of the game. You’re trying to run a little bit of clock, and your offense maybe loses a little bit of thrust, but at the same point, you probably can’t say the type of shot we talked about it is, publicly, but those are really important shots you shoot with a ton of great a ton of heart, and you love making those dagger threes.”

On a foul not being called when Kriisa was hit in the face: “Listen, they reviewed it. I don’t know, I haven’t watched it. And if the referees review something, I mean I have to take them at their word if they sit there for four minutes and watch it, I have to assume that they’re making the correct decision.”

On if Kriisa may not get some calls because of his reputation: “Anybody that wouldn’t want him on their team is crazy. I think these referees respect good players. They know he’s a good player, and they they know he’s got a little personality, and sometimes, some things come with the personality. I think the referees know how to manage him, and I think he’s learning how to manage them. That’s part of maturing as a player and I think he’s doing a great job.”

Tubelis on scoing 40: “The first thing is in my head, my teammates, they saw me on open-side ball screens. I had a night I finished everything. Shots went in, I had a lot of points. Credit my teammates.”

On having that game in front of his mother and sister: “I guess I needed to play my best basketball, which I did offensively. I wanted to show, first of all, how I look here. She didn’t see me basically for like two years. And her friends are supporting her, too. I think she’s proud of me.”

On making the Wooden Award midseason list and being a contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year: “It’s an award for an individual, so I don’t really care. I’m a team player, I don’t care about that stuff.”

On how this game was different from the previous against Oregon: “At Oregon, sometimes I did some stupid mistakes offensively and just ran through people. I didn’t stop and look for teammates, which I did (tonight). One of the reasons I got the ball open from Kerr and all the guards is that bigs were setting screens. At Oregon we didn’t set any screens and that opened up space for free shots.”

Kriisa on if he knew Tubelis was close to the McKale scoring record: “No, I wish I did. If I would have known that I would have given the ball to Zu. Or even like when we dribbled it out (at the end), Zu should have dunked the ball. What he did today was … I don’t even know how to put it into words, to be honest. I’ve never witnessed anything like this when I’ve played with my teammate.”

On how to balance hunting shots and running the offense: “That’s a good question. What’s in mind is, first of all, my teammates. I’m not trying to force some crazy shots in the beginning, I’m trying to get everybody going. But I know that at some point I got to be aggressive myself. And I feel like we play our best when I’m more aggressive from 3, and in general. It’s still 50-50, but I think the past (few) games I’ve done pretty solid.”

On if missing a shot or making a bad pass would affect how he plays: “It probably used to. But now the last (few) games I’ve been pretty chill. Just YOLO mode, pretty much, and it’s been pretty good so far.”

On Tubelis not showing much emotion: “He gets very excited when we win at Fortnite, then you can hear him just letting it out. But Zu is Zu. Let’s (not) act like is not giving out emotions. His emotions are different, playing it cool and trying to make some faces. I think if I would have had a 40-piece, I would have done some dumb stuff.”

On being able to get away with putting his hands on a referee: “I’ve been here already a few years, so I kind of know the officials and the relationship is very special with most of them. Obviously if I didn’t know the ref I wouldn’t have put my hand on his nose. The ref said it wasn’t that hard hit, but in my mind, I’m not a big school guy, but I think nose is one of the most softest or very sensitive spots. And the other thing I was think, in Washington State I got a flagrant for that. So I was definitely hoping for a flagrant, but it didn’t happen. Next play.”

On if he thinks the refs may not give him some calls because of his reputation: “I hope not, but probably most of them do.”

On Arizona’s improved defense: “Defensively we’ve been way more aggressive. And we’ve prioritized it more. And we take it more personally now. We take more pride in defense, and at the end of the day defense wins championship.”