Arizona gets the win, but Lloyd says: ‘I wish we would have played better’

It was a star-studded night in McKale Center on Wednesday night. That was off the court. It’s debatable on the court, however.

Arizona struggled – being early-season Arizona – in its 82-67 win over USC, and it was very noticeable to most involved, particularly the man in charge of the Wildcats.

“Arizona basketball, it’s a show,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said when asked about those in attendance. “I wish we would have played better for everybody, but at the end of the day, we got the result we needed. It didn’t feel great, but we did (win).”

In front of the likes of Suns Kevin Durant, former UA great Miles Simon, Terry Francona, Ka’Deem Carey, Tetairoa McMillan, Noah Fifita and new UA football coach Brent Brennan, Arizona sputtered at times with poor energy and a lack of offensive efficiency.

This team continues to not click on all cylinders, unlike it did in November and early December. Yet, again, Arizona may have been zoned out and not honed in, given for the second consecutive time an opponent has gone to the zone defense to slow – confuse? – Arizona.

“You play against that much zone, sometimes it changes the rhythm of the game,” Lloyd said. “At halftime we’re up 10 (45-35), I didn’t necessarily feel great, but when you look at the efficiency we’re 1.3 on offense, which is better than our normal. But in the second half, we got stagnant for whatever reason. SC deserves some credit, but we know we got to keep getting better.”

At some point it has to. It surely didn’t when it came close to the basket. And well UA did get to the basket but missed a number of seemingly makeable shots. Many, however, were unorthodox, difficult shots. According to AZDesert Swarm’s Brian Pederson, UA missed 17 of 28 layups.


“I would like to see us finish better overall,” Lloyd said. “I think we’re taking some crazy attempts and that’s just something that’s never been a part of Arizona basketball since I’ve been here. We need better discipline and shot selection even on our layups. We need to get paid when we get the ball in there.”

That’s two straight games UA has struggled with that. Last week, UA missed 20 layups in a loss to Washington State. Again, Arizona isn’t the team of two months ago.

And, we’re talking layups. Layups?

“If you have a layup, you got a responsibility to deliver for your team,” Lloyd said. “I don’t care what they’re in. I mean, it’s a layup. Layups aren’t easy, they’re not, but good teams make layups. I’m talking like in transition. I’m talking over all; I’m not just talking (going against) a zone. When you shoot a layup you have a responsibility to make it or get fouled. Those are your two options, and you don’t get any extra points for dipsy do or jumping in the air and trying to do something crazy.”

Part of the problem is Arizona isn’t the pass-happy team it was earlier the season. Sure, Arizona had 18 assists on 28 makes, but Arizona has been better. Much better.

What helps with being less stagnant on offense?

“You have to have guys that move together, two or three guys that are on the same page,” Lloyd said. “You can’t run just set plays against the zone all the time, the best way to attack zone is just feel for the game and passing and skill and force, and we just didn’t do a good job in the second half putting those things together.”

Contrarily, UA’s Keshad Johnson said he saw improvements to last week when they faced a zone. UA hit more shots and, well, looked better. Of course, beauty – or improvement – is in the eye of the beholder.

“From the Washington State game, you could see we learned from that,” said Johnson, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds. “They played a zone the majority of the game. compared to (Wednesday). You can see that we look a lot more comfortable, a lot better. We’re just going in the right direction. We just got to keep it up.”

Arizona did return to having five players in double-figure scoring, once again led by Caleb Love’s 20 point. Pelle Larsson had 13 points, Kyland Boswell had 11 points and Jaden Bradley had 10.

Boswell, who continues to struggle was 4 for 12 from the floor, was replaced in the starting lineup in the second half by Bradley.

“Just trying to shake it up a little bit,” Lloyd said. “JB (Bradley) has been playing well, he’s been having really good impact on our team. It’s no (knock) on Kylan … It was nothing, I was just trying to shake it up a little bit. I’ll continue to evaluate it. I haven’t made any final decisions.”


UA center Oumar Ballo shot 4-10 from the free throw line and has shot about 60 percent for the season. For the season he’s hitting 43 percent after hitting 70 percent his first year at UA, albeit in a limited role.

“They looked better today,” Lloyd said. “I don’t know if I’m concerned because I just think there’s a value for him getting us in the bonus and the double bonus. Obviously, I would feel better if he was making 75 percent of them, but he does so many other positive things I can’t just get hung up on that.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top