LAS VEGAS — From the second the game started, the T-Mobile arena was filled with "U of A" and "Arizona" chants.
At some point's during the game, I couldn't tell if I was in Tucson or Vegas. Wildcat fans made the trip from Tucson and brought plenty of energy for their team. About 90 percent of the crowd were Arizona fans and helped them move to 3-0 in T-Mobile arena today.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” Lloyd said. To overcome a performance like that in an elimination game is pretty special.”
The Arizona mens basketball team defeated the Stanford Cardinal 84-80 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament today in a very close game. This game was close throughout the first half because neither team could pull away with a big margin. In the second half the same was true but Christian Koloko and Justin Kier had a few big plays to lead the Wildcats to a victory.
Koloko's defense has always been phenomenal but his offense has not been in the past. This year he has transformed his offensive ability by being more aggressive in the paint. The revenge tour continued today for him, where he scored 24 points on 10-12 shooting from the field along with nine rebounds.
“So, he had to battle, you know for him to go 10 of 12 with all that traffic in there, It shows how far he's come and he did a great job kind of slowing down, getting on balance and, you know, made some big free throws down the stretch too” Lloyd said.
Stanford was terrific throughout the game shooting the ball from three-point range and ended the contest 11-20 (55%). One of their best players Spencer Jones was excellent in the game, scoring 28 points along with eight rebounds.
“I mean I felt comfortable with our attack, you know, I didn't think offense was our issue for the most part, and Christian being able to play in switches like that was a really important piece of the puzzle today" Lloyd said.
Arizona's best scorer Bennedict Mathruin came to play against Stanford, where he finished the game with 20 points and seven rebounds on a great 4-9 shooting from deep.
“We're having a lot of fans coming to Vegas and cheering for us, and when we make a big play, a lot of people know cheer your name. I'll say it's pretty fun, It felt like home in Vegas, I'll just say it's a pretty good experience” Mathurin said.
Mathurin showed everyone why he is a projected NBA lottery pick in this year's draft. He can score the ball at all three levels and when he is doing it with confidence like we saw in today's game, he is a hard player to stop for defenses.
A constant problem that this Wildcat team has faced throughout the season has been inconsistent three-point shooting. In today's game they were 9-27 and above average for most of the game from there.
Three Wildcats scored in double figures in this game [Mathurin, Koloko and Kerr Kriisa]. Kriisa had a good game scoring 10 points with five assists but had to leave the game with under a minute left because of an apparent knee injury.
"We're a new group experiencing a lot of things so, you know, so it was good to get tested today, and obviously Stanford gave us everything we want and then some,” Lloyd said. “I love this time of year I love coaching in these games, and you know, they mean a lot and, and obviously, you want to win, if you don't win, you got to go home. So, it's a position I'm comfortable to be in and I can't wait to get on that court tomorrow.”
This is Arizona's first postseason victory in the last 729 days since March 11, 2020 when the Wildcats defeated Washington. The Wildcats will now play the winner of the Colorado State vs Oregon State game in the semifinals of the tournament tomorrow at 6:00p.m. MST. The Ducks face-off with the Buffaloes today at 3:30 P.M.
Editors note: This story will be updated with quotes from the post-game press conference.
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