Arizona’s getaway game almost got away from it … until it didn’t Thursday night. Then again, every game can’t always be a masterpiece.
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd admitted that after this team’s 93-68 win over visiting Morgan State. Arizona’s one-two punch of Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo proved to be too much for the shorter Bears. Arizona had 48 points in the paint and if that isn’t a paint-by-numbers explanation of how Arizona won by attrition and talent, what else will?
Tubelis had a game-high 26 points and added nine rebounds. Ballo added 21 points and four rebounds. Together, they shot 17 of 18 from the floor, including Azuolas two 3-pointers.
Is there a better frontcourt duo than Arizona’s. It would be hard-pressed to find it. Azuolas continues his nonchalant ways on the court, yet flashes amazing from time to time. There were those two 3s and then that halfcourt dribble through an opponent to get the runaway dunk.
“I don’t know if he can recreate that again,” Lloyd said of the halfcourt dribble through. “I’ve seen him try some good things that haven’t worked. Zoo is really coming on. And he’s just so consistent. He scores in different ways. He made a couple of threes today and he’s handsy on defense. He gets out on transition. He’s hitting the offensive glass. I love where he’s at. I think he’s gonna continue to improve.”
And so will Ballo, who has come on the scene like few others in his second year in the program. He’s been unstoppable near the basket. He was again Thursday night.
“Oumar gets an A-plus,” Lloyd said. “I mean, he’s been incredibly consistent. On the offensive end he’s delivering. His free throws for the most part, you know, he’s probably never going to be Rick berry (NBA Hall of Famer), but he’s making them when he has to. And defensively, he’s our anchor. … I’m really proud of Oumar. But he crazy part of basketball is that you have to keep delivering. We just got to keep him focused on delivering.”
As well as everyone else. Still, Arizona is 12-1 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12 Conference. It’s also ranked No. 5 in the country, and everything seems so optimistic. So much so, Lloyd went into the press conference to say he was going to give his team an A for the first third of the season.
“I’m proud of the guys,” he said. “I told them at midterms we got an A. But finals are where it’s at. I’m happy with where we started.”
He then adjust his grade.
“I think it’s an A, … it’s hard to argue … but not 100 percent – maybe not an A-plus but it’s an A,” Lloyd said.
Thursday, the A for the game was questionable for the first 20 minutes, given Morgan State hung around and hung around. UA led 41-32. Then, Arizona outscored the visitors 52-36 in the second half.
Lloyd was asked if he felt the team looked lethargic a time or two.
“They hit a few shots and maybe had us on our (toes),” Lloyd said. “Had us uncomfortable but these games aren’t going to be 40-minute fastbreak frenzy alley oop dunk contests.”
As long as they keep pulling As, Lloyd will be fine with it.