Azuolas Tubelis deserves more national attention, says Arizona's Tommy Lloyd
Azuolis Tubelis told Tommy Lloyd at halftime of Arizona’s beatdown of Oregon State on Sunday that he was fine taking an early rest. The Wildcats were up 47-21 at the break, courtesy of a 21-3 run to close out the first half. That afforded Arizona’s head coach the opportunity to open up the rotation a bit more.
Adama Bal got double-digit minutes in a game for the first time since before Christmas. Filip Borvicanin saw at least five minutes on the floor for just the sixth time this year. Tautvilas Tubelis made just his fifth appearance of the season.
The Wildcats were able to give Tubelis some much-deserved rest. With friends and family from Lithuania in town, Tubelis had quite the weekend.
On Thursday, he scored 40 points against Oregon, the most by an Arizona player in 28 years. He got off to a bit of a slower start in Saturday’s game, but he still finished with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, eight rebounds, two steals, and an assist in 23 minutes.
“The most quiet 19 I’ve ever seen,” Lloyd said.
Added freshman Arizona guard Kylan Boswell: “He’s just a freak. I really don’t understand how he does what he does, but it’s very fun to watch. Very fun to play with him. He’s definitely made me better, with just reading the game, reading him. It’s definitely fun to watch.”
Forget Pac-12 Player of the Year, Tubelis should be in the conversation for National Player of the Year.
“He’s playing like a vet,” Lloyd said. “He understands where his opportunities are on the court and he’s doing a tremendous job. He’s having an All-American-type season. I’ve coached those guys and he’s at that level. He probably isn’t getting that due he deserves. I think this guy’s a first-team All-American and you’d have to convince me otherwise.”
Tubelis has averages of 20.8 points and 9.5 rebounds on the season. The Athletic did a roundtable a week ago and, in it, asked writers whether there was anyone who could take the National POTY award away from Purdue’s Zach Edey. Tubelis wasn’t mentioned.
“Part of it is there’s narratives created early in the year,” Lloyd said when asked why he thinks Tubelis isn’t getting more attention. “And there’s other really good players, and sometimes those guys get the benefit of the doubt of being out in the lead and in the minds of people. So maybe they have a good game here and there, and that reminds everybody, ‘Oh yeah, they’re really good.’
“Zu has been as consistent as any big guy in the country. Zach Edey, I don’t know, maybe, but any other big in the country, he’s been as consistent as those guys on a nightly basis. And it’s obvious his team’s performing at a high level. You’d have to convince me that he’s not a first-team All-American.”