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What Tommy Lloyd, Jaden Bradley and KJ Lewis said after Arizona’s win over Stanford

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-stanford-cardinal-tommy-lloyd-kj-lewis-jaden-bradley-2024-pac12 Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

After six weeks of conference play, Arizona is atop the Pac-12 standings with an 8-3 record. The Wildcats are a full game ahead of second-place Oregon and Washington State, with four other teams two games back of the top spot.

“It’s where we want to be, it’s where we feel like we belong,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said after his team rallied from down 11 at the half to beat Stanford. “We don’t take it for granted. We know there’s a lot of games to play. We know we got an incredibly tough road trip coming up here. Being in the running for a regular-season conference championship means a lot. I’m proud that’s where we’re at, but I know there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Our game recap from Arizona’s 82-71 victory can be found here. Below is what Lloyd and guards Jaden Bradley and KJ Lewis said afterward:

Lloyd on avenging the loss to Stanford: “I got a ton of respect for Stanford. They play really well against us. Talented players, well coached. They were deserving tonight, and luckily in the second half our guys played a little bit better and we’re playing at home and we were able to kind of right the ship a little bit. A ton of respect for them and how they play.”

On falling behind early: “I wasn’t trying to overthink it. We warned our guys these guys will throw ahead and shoot transition threes and they did and they made a few of them and then we made a few of them and then they made a few more. Not necessarily the start we really wanted, but then our guys dug back in the game. It set us up to play well in the second half and our guys did.”

On Bradley being plus-17 off the bench: “He’s done that a lot this year. I think he does a good job of not taking shots away from other guys that are scorers. Sometimes that’s important. I think he does a good job of obviously defensively of making plays, and he makes plays that seem to get us in transition a little bit. You make a defensive play, they don’t score, and you get a transition basket and you score and that’s like a 4-point turnaround. Those swings happen fast ,so he just does a really good job of impacting the game. He had a great look about him tonight when he got on the court. I’m really happy that he played well. The better JB plays overall, the better we are, and he’s played pretty good for the most part all season.”

On if he gave a fiery halftime speech: “Not today. I just keep reminding myself that I need a coach calm and confident. I think that’s when we’re at our best. It’s sometimes a challenge with some of my staff, especially some of the Italian guys (Riccardo Fois) on my staff. He brings great spirit and great energy and he means well, and his fire helps us as well. My job is to stay calm and confident.”

On being able to come back in the second half: “That’s why over the course of the season, you need the experience against like UCLA, and overcome it, which wasn’t easy to do. Down 19 and down 17 in the second half to overcome it, I think it gives you guys a certain sense of belief that we can do this. I think for the most part I think we won every segment in the second half, which was pretty impressive.”

On Stanford’s schemes: “They’re a hard team to prepare for. They have packages of offensive sets that have little counters to them, and they know how to call the counter for the right moment. They watch you to do one thing on defense, they’re gonna run a counter to it right away. And our guys were struggling with some of their defensive decision-making in the first half, even in the second half a little bit. But that goes to a credit to Stanford, that’s their system and their style, and I thought our guys just did a little bit better pressuring the ball.”

On the sellout crowd: “I thought the crowd really impacted the game. Our fans participated in that game today, which was pretty special.”

On Lewis’ defense: “I think he’s done it for the most part all season. KJ’s got amazing instincts defensively, he’s got amazing physical tools and reaction time. He’s not afraid to take a risk. And I don’t want to tame him. I’m good with that. He’s getting more repetitions now, so maybe he has more data in his database to understand okay, maybe this isn’t the time to go for that steel and things like that. That’s coming from him learning it, not from me trying to slow him down, because he’s great. I mean, I thought he made a run a great plays today, defensively.”

On Pelle Larsson: “I think the guy that doesn’t always get the credit defensively is Pelle. He’s a really good defender and he gives you everything you got. You got to see him at the end of that game and he’s beaten to a pulp. I mean, he puts his body on the line over and over and over again. I thought he did an incredible job defensively.”

On the defense overall: “We’re built to be a great defensive team, now we just need to do it all the time, and for the most part we have all year. Our defense, it’s maybe left us a few times, and it’s been pretty glaring, but for the most part it’s been pretty good.”

On if Keshad Johnson injured his shoulder in the first half: “He did, but I don’t think that anything to do with his minutes tonight. I told Key after the game, in a lot of ways he’s been our MVP this year. He’s just such a great guy, a great leader behind the scenes. This was a game that, the way they were defending, I just didn’t think that maybe fit some of his strengths. And we kind of put KJ out there and we started playing well, and in Keshad was the first to say guys, that’s awesome. That’s basketball. I’m so happy we won. I’m so happy you guys balled. He’s an absolute stud. We had to make a call there, and we made the call there and luckily it worked out.”

On players not getting upset over minutes or someone else having a big game: “We’re a team. We’re a program. We talk about that stuff on a daily basis. We’re never going to be a program that is going to try to showcase one player. We want our team to represent Tucson. Tucson is a tough, blue collar town, and that’s how we want to play. No one needs to shine, we just need to get the result, and that’s how we approach it.”

On adjusting to Stanford missing leading scorer Kanaan Carlyle: “No real adjustments. The kid’s a heck of a player, and maybe with him out there, it’s a little harder to pressure because he’s got such a little burst off the dribble and he’s had an incredible freshman year. I think that’s the thing people don’t realize about Stanford. They’ve only lost three games at full strength all year. Tonight, obviously, they weren’t a full strength. I think when you take that into consideration, they are really good.”

On Oumar Ballo’s weekend: “It’s time. I mean, now. That’s why I keep telling him, now. Let’s go. He’s rising to the moment and he’s battling. He’s not 100 percent healthy, either. So for him to come out and play the way he did is pretty impressive. He had a great weekend. I like the trend we’re on, let’s keep it going.”

On the second half defense: “We guarded a little better, we didn’t get beat individually. They do a good job, it’s sneaky they beat you individually and they kind of are able to make the space just right to make your next pass which leads to the next pass and you know. I could tell from the jump today, their coaches did a good job having their guys have a let it rip mentality. I mean, they weren’t hesitating on any of those shots. They’re hard to guard, so I think maybe just being a little better, a little more aggressive. And maybe the crowd helping us a little bit too.”

On getting to the rim more in the second half: “They do a really good job not fouling overall. They obviously coach to that. And when a team’s doing that you gotta tell your guys, guys we got to attack. We know O can put a lot of pressure on you, maybe we can create a little bit of movement, find a cut, find a driving lane, take things to the basket and don’t start to settle. We’ve prepared like that this week, or the last couple days. Maybe in the first half we didn’t see it, but first half I don’t think we were expecting them to come out switching one through five on ball screens. Maybe I should have adjusted quicker or the guys should have adjusted quicker, but it kind of took to halftime to get it right.”

On pulling Kylan Boswell after a transition turnover in the second half: “I was telling him Kylan, and he knows this: a 3-on-1, 4-on-1 fast break, we’re up seven that gets us up nine. It doesn’t matter, we just need two points. That’s it. It’s nothing personal. We work on that stuff in practice. You guys think that we’re a running team, we haven’t been as efficient running as we should be this year. So we have been spending a lot of time working on that in practice. I just wanted to make sure that he knew it’s important. Kylan is a developing player. I mean, he’s had some great games, he’s had some rough games, that’s part of it, but he’s a super important part of this team. He has the kind of character, I know him, that he will learn from that and that will not happen again.”

On being named Team USA U18 national team head coach: “It’s an absolute honor. The USA Basketball guys are great guys, it’s a great program. I’m friends with a lot of them. It’s something that probably five or 10 years ago I would have never dreamed possible. It’s an opportunity I’m going to take advantage of. I’ve been going and watching these FIBA tournaments for almost 25 years, so it’s going to be fun to participate in one. It’s not going to hurt Arizona. I’ll give you my word. I got a great staff. It’ll happen at a time when we’re on summer break, so we’ll be alright.”

On if he’ll also coach the U19 team in 2025: “They’ve asked me to make a 2-year commitment and I made a 2-year commitment to them.”

Bradley on the bench scoring 23 points: “Our job coming off the bench is just to try to maintain energy. Coach always tells us when we get in make a difference. I feel like today our bench was able to do that.”

On Stanford’s hot start: “They came out shooting the lights out of the ball, hitting transition threes. Halftime we can in and adjusted it, tried to move them off the line and stay in front.”

On the second half: “The second half, we came out with more energy. Defensively, we came out with more intensity. That’s what wins games at the end of the day.”

On Ballo: “It’s night and day when he’s playing that hard and getting those numbers.”

On Stanford’s defensive approach: “They came out switching everything, 1 through 5. That’s something we haven’t seen all season. Teams are definitely going to try to do that. Our adjustment was to just move the ball and play Arizona basketball and we came out on top.”

On being happy when someone else is having a big game and you’re not: “Every night it’s not going to be your day, it might be somebody on the bench. Everybody just giving everybody energy and be happy for the next man. So I feel like that’s what’s great about our team, we’re all happy for each other, and at the end of the day, we don’t care who shines. You know what one love so that’s what makes us a great basketball.”

On coming off the bench at Arizona when he could start elsewhere: “I don’t want to be anywhere else. Tommy does a great job of putting us in situations where we can be successful. So that’s all we ask for.”

Lewis on the halftime adjustments: “Going into halftime I think we were all calm, but we all knew what the mentality was in the second half. Just to really lock in and not give up easy transition buckets and guard the 3-point line.”

On the role of the bench when it gets into the game: “Coach Lloyd, he emphasizes, when we get in just to try to make a spark, bring the energy back up. That’s our job to have the starters’ back.”

On what Lloyd said at halftime: “He just said we’re good. We just have to settle in and just be be killers, be dogs on the defensive side and the offensive side will take care of itself.”

On getting to the rim more in the second half: “Just moving the ball and cutting. We watch film, they don’t really want to try to foul, or block shots, so we just have to force it, take the pressure to them and make them make a decision, either let us get a bucket or foul us.”

On what the crowd brings: “All the energy in the world. It’s probably one of the best venues, if not the best in the country. We love the fans and just like Coach Lloyd, they’re a part of us. They bring the energy for us and we just got to bring the energy for them.”

On not sulking about not starting: “It’s a testament to our culture, for sure. It started from day one when everybody got here, Coach Lloyd said celebrate each other’s wins and pick each other up after losses.”

On being in first place: “We’re just trying to take every game game by game. We know we got a tough road trip ahead, we just gotta lock in mentally, prepare really well, and hopefully get a road sweep.”