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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


MBB Notebook 3/8/23: Ballo and Tubelis make Pac-12 first team, Utah vs. Stanford match-up awaits in Pac-12 Tournament

Jackie Cabrera

Arizona men’s basketball forward Azuolas Tubelis attempts a layup on Dec.13, 2022 in McKale Center. The Wildcats won against Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi by a score of 99-61.

The Arizona men’s basketball team lost its final game of the regular season 82-73 on Saturday, March 4, against UCLA. Although they lost to the Bruins, the Wildcats head into the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas this week as the No. 2 seed.

“Of course you learn from it, but you know, we’re not we’re not going to let it stick with us,” Arizona men’s basketball head coach Tommy Lloyd said about the loss to UCLA. “You know, hopefully we’ll learn a few things from it, and I know I’ve moved on and I’m pretty sure the players have too.”

As the season has come to an end, here are how the Pac-12 awards played out and what the postseason will look like.

Pac-12 awards

Arizona players Ažuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo made the All-Pac-12 first team.

Tubelis is the first Wildcat to make the Pac-12 first team two years in a row since Derrick Williams did it in 2010-11. Only seven Wildcats have made it in back-to-back seasons.

UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award over Tubelis, who was most likely the runner-up. Tubelis was the consensus pick for this award for most of the season but after having a rough couple of weeks, voters changed their minds.

“So well deserved, and the guys have had great seasons, but we’re focusing right now on the basketball we still have to play,” Lloyd said.

Tubelis still had an incredible season, averaging 19.9 points, 9.2 rebounds while shooting 57.7% from the field, 33.3% from deep and 76.6% on foul shots. Tubelis is the first player to lead the Pac-12 in scoring and rebounding in a single season since Leon Powe did it for the University of California, Berkeley in 2005-06. He is just the seventh player in conference history to do it.

Ballo also won the Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year award. He went from averaging 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks while only playing 15 minutes a game last season to having 13.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season. His minute total per game has also increased to about 28 minutes.

“He’s worked really hard, he’s gotten better and he made a significant jump from last year to this year,” Lloyd said. “He had the work ethic to do the work so I’m really proud of him.”

Arizona guard Courtney Ramey was an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12 team. Wildcat freshman guard Kylan Boswell was an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12 freshman team.

Quarter-finals matchup

As Arizona is the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, the team will have a bye during the first round of the tournament. The Wildcats will play the winner of the No. 7 University of Utah vs. the No. 10 Stanford University game taking place the night of Wednesday, March 8.

“I look at those teams and they have talented players, they have talented players and they have a plan, and when you have talented players and a plan that’s executed, I mean, you can have some tough nights, and we did,” Lloyd said. “So, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see how we are this time.”

Both Utah and Stanford defeated Arizona this season. The Utes handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season on Dec. 1 and the Cardinals beat them on Feb. 11.

“You think you’re gonna have a general idea of what you want to accomplish in both games. And a lot of it is, you’re gonna double down on the things that you do you know, they’re quick turnarounds,” Lloyd said. “But again, you have a familiarity with these teams. I think we’ll be able to go into the game comfortable with our game plan and feel like no, we haven’t been shorted.”

Arizona has had a lot of recent success in the Pac-12 Tournament as the team beat UCLA 84-76 to win it last season. During the last 10 Pac-12 Tournaments (skipping 2020), Arizona has won four times and lost in the championship two other times.

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