The Arizona men’s basketball team found out what life is like without Azuolas Tubelis. It’s not pretty.
It found out what it’s like when the team has lazy passes and gets beat to loose balls. It’s not fun.
And it learned that if doesn’t go after rebounds, it won’t have a chance to win. No chance.
It’s already learned how life on the road is – again – as Stanford knocked off the Wildcats 87-79 in Maples Pavilion for its fourth conference loss. Arizona also lost for the first time in eight games. Arizona is 22-4 overall and 11-4 in the Pac-12.
Saturday night at Stanford it wasn’t pretty, but losses never are.
“They kicked our butts in every way shape and form – on the glass, too,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said on his postgame radio show. “However you slice and dice it … it was a tough one for Arizona. We gotta get back and figure it out.”
Arizona was outrebounded 34-26.
Lloyd said UA had a number of “self-inflicted wounds.”
Once again, it’s a non-mystery mystery. Arizona, which entered the game No. 4 in the country, has lost to Utah, Oregon, Washington State and now Stanford. And has beaten Indiana, Tennessee, UCLA and Creighton – all highly thought of.
Strange, but true … But history will tell you Arizona gets up for the big games and, well, not so much for the non-big games. Still, it was a big game for Stanford.
And what Arizona did was let – or Stanford was the reason – the Cardinal stick around throughout the first half, despite getting out to an eventual nine-point lead. But scrappy and determined Stanford stayed close against the seemingly uninspired Wildcats (they also found out they can’t continue to do that).
Trouble came early – and then late – when Tubelis, the conference’s best player, got in early foul trouble and couldn’t stay out of it. He finished with a season-low four points, the lowest he’s had since last-season’s season-ending loss to Houston. (see a trend?)
Arizona basketball without Tubelis isn’t pretty. He had no rebounds in 17 minutes.
“He’s our best player and I gotta find a way to get him out there more,” said Lloyd. “I got to do that. He had a couple of tough calls (so we gotta) go back and see how they look when we watch them on film. But we gotta have (him) on the floor. He’s our best player. We gotta live and die with Zu. I’m gonna own that one today.”
It did exactly that on Saturday. Arizona went in as a 7.5-point favorite.
Yet, Stanford, a team that came off a surprising loss to Arizona State on Thursday, wasn’t deterred. It played hard throughout, not wanting to lose to Arizona again. Stanford hadn’t beaten UA in Maples since 2009.
“I tip my hat to them and their staff does a great job and they’re great guys, but I’m super disappointed,” Lloyd said about Stanford and then his team, “in how we played, our effort, coaching … the whole deal. We got to kind of rally the troops and figure this out.”
He said figuring out what his team needs will be fun “but makes coaching a tough business.”
Arizona’s poor performance overshadowed the nice night by Courtney Ramey, who had a UA career night, scoring 26 points on 9 of 18 shooting. He hit eight 3-pointers, which helped UA stay in the game. UA shot 35 3-pointers.
“Courtney played well,” Lloyd said. “I just felt like we took way too many threes for Arizona basketball. It’s not what we do. And that’s not a winning formula for us. We’re gonna have to kind of look into that.”
He added at his press conference: it’s a “get back to the drawing board” moment. Then added “every time we’ve stubbed out toe, we’ve really responded.”