Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bruins shock No. 23 Wildcats 65-52 on the road

Pac-12 Networks

In a stunning upset that few could say they saw coming, the UCLA Bruins went to Arizona and defeated the No. 23 Wildcats by a final of 65-52. Defense led the way for the Bruins as the Wildcats were held to their lowest point total this season. No single UCLA student-athlete stood out on offense but head coach Mick Cronin got contributions up and down the bench as nine different Bruins scored in the stunning victory. UCLA has now won back-to-back victories when playing against ranked teams, having defeated then-No. 20 Colorado on January 30th.

Longer version from Matthew Loves Ball 
Mike Regalado - Bruin Report Online


UCLA Defeats No. 23 Arizona, 65-52

TUCSON, Ariz. – The UCLA men's basketball team won at No. 23 Arizona, 65-52, in a Pac-12 contest on Saturday night before a sell-out crowd of 14,644 at the McKale Center.

UCLA (13-11, 6-5 Pac-12) registered its third consecutive victory at Arizona, limiting the Wildcats to season lows in points and field goal percentage (25.4%).

In fact, the Bruins limited Arizona (16-7, 6-4) to its lowest overall field goal percentage in the history of the McKale Center, an arena that opened in 1973. Previously, Arizona had never shot as low as 32 percent in a game at the McKale Center (and that occurred against Oregon in 1980).

The Bruins used a back-breaking 14-0 scoring run in the second half, turning a one-point lead into a 15-point advantage with five minutes to play. UCLA's defense held the Wildcats without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes in the second half.

"You can't play much better than that," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "We kept them out of transition, made them play five-on-five, took our chances, they missed some good looks. Once we controlled the defensive glass, the game was over, which is hard to do against them."

The Bruins used a team effort on Saturday night, as Chris Smith led the group with 15 points. Tyger Campbell had 12 points and a team-leading five assists.

UCLA shot 51.1 percent from the field, including 52.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. In addition, UCLA made 10 of 12 free throws (83.3 percent).

The Bruins entered the game having out-rebounded the opposition in 20 of 23 games. Saturday's result proved no different. UCLA registered a 35-30 rebounding advantaged. Jalen Hill had nine rebounds (and nine points) after having missed Thursday night's game at Arizona State with a sprained right knee (sustained in practice on Wednesday).

The teams began the game trading 3-pointers, with the first six baskets coming from beyond the arc (three from each team).

Smith had two of the first three Bruin 3-pointers. Cody Riley's and-one with 4:43 to play in the first half gave UCLA a 23-21 lead, and Prince Ali's three-pointer at 3:01 put UCLA ahead 26-23.

UCLA took a 29-28 lead into halftime and came out firing in the second half, going on a quick 5-0 run to start the half and outscoring the Wildcats 9-2 in the first four minutes. That spurt put the Bruins ahead of Arizona, 38-30. A jump shot by Smith at the 13:32 mark extended UCLA's advantage to nine points (45-36).

Arizona came roaring back, taking advantage of Riley and Jaime Jaquez Jr. each picking up their fourth fouls to go on an 8-0 run to close to within one, 45-44, with 9:47 to play. But the Bruins answered with an 14-0 run of their own to take a 15-point lead, 59-44, on a David Singleton three-pointer. UCLA ended up with an 18-2 run to move ahead 63-46 with 3:16 to play to put the game out of reach.

UCLA did not play Arizona at the McKale Center last season, but won previous contests in the Wildcats' home arena in Feb. 2018 and Feb. 2017.

Saturday's win marked the Bruins' second victory over a top-25 ranked foe in the last two weeks. The Bruins downed No. 20 Colorado in Los Angeles (72-68) on Thursday, Jan. 30.

UCLA will return home to face Washington State this Thursday evening. Game time is 8 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. The Bruins' game will be televised on Pac-12 Network.

Postgame Quotes – UCLA at Arizona

UCLA 65, Arizona 52
Tucson, Ariz. (McKale Center)
February 8, 2020

Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach
opening remarks
“You can’t play much better than that. But they missed some open shots. At least we made it hard on them, didn’t give them layups. We kept them out of transition, made them play five on five and took our chances. They missed some good looks. Once we controlled the defensive glass, the game was over, which is hard to do against them, really hard to do. Zeke Nnaji is unbelievable. It’s hard to believe that he’s as freshman.”

on if that is the best UCLA has played all season
“Oh, hands down. Hands down.”

on what helped the Bruins get on a 14-0 scoring run
“Yeah, I called the timeout to tell our guys, ‘Look, they made a run and now it’s over.’ But I’ll tell you guys this all the time. I’ll get on them and I demand a lot from them and they get the job done, you’ve got to give them credit. Coaches don’t win games. Players win games. And tonight, my players won the game. They did a tremendous job. We only had three first half turnovers. We did a tremendous job with execution. Sean [Miller] is as good a coach defensively as there is in the country, period. Always has been and always will be. So it’s hard to score against them. We had to change some things and make some adjustments because they’re just so good in the half-court. Tyger [Campbell] was awesome – his passing, his big buckets, his passing early in the game. He did a tremendous job.”

on Arizona shooting its lowest field goal percentage in 48 years
“Thank God it was against us. You know, some of that was our defense, and some of that was that the ball didn’t go in. I saw with their Gonzaga [game], you know, they were one for their first 15 from three. For us, it’s the law of averages because we played the other night and the other team couldn’t miss.”

on whether he thinks the Bruins are making a consistent improvement as the season continues
“We had a great team meeting last night. We had a great practice today. We kind of rested on our day in between and do some of our mental stuff. We had a great team meeting yesterday where I talked to the guys, and it was really the first time that I had talked to them about Cincinnati and how to win these games. I had coached in the Big East against top-25 teams. You have to make the other team play five on five. It’s not that you don’t want to run, you’ll run for layups. But you can’t let them run for layups. So you can’t get your shot blocked. You can’t have live ball turnovers because they’ll just go flying on down like Arizona State, where we had given up 27 points on the break. Tonight, I’m not sure what it ended up – we had four points on the [fast] break. You’ve got a chance to win if you do that. You’ve got to stop a team. They’re too good if you give them easy baskets.”

on whether one of the team’s goals was to limit Zeke Nnaji
“That guy is impressive. We couldn’t get enough people on him, at times. I mean, literally, he was out-rebounding us, one on four, a few times. He’s not the reason that they didn’t win. I’m not sure what his numbers ended up. So, he’s a double-double machine. He’s as good a rebounder as I have seen all year.”

on the Bruins’ 3-point defense against Arizona
“Well, I think that Nico has to play a lot. And he is a freshman, in fairness to him. I think he has to take a lot of threes off the dribble. We tried to do a really good job on Smith, Hazzard and Baker. Those were the guys we were worried about the most, from the 3-point line. We contested Nico as much as we could. But you know, he’s going to miss some shots. You have to be somewhat arbitrary about it. Sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes it doesn’t.”

on the mental fortitude of this team to win in a hostile environment
“It was awesome to see. That’s the best part of coaching, by far.”

on whether this may raise expectations for the rest of UCLA’s games
“I’m sure it does. Of course. Welcome to my job. You’re going to go and write about we should win the rest of them, of how we figured it out and I finally did a good job coaching. We’ve been waiting all year for me to do a better job, and now we’ve got to go and win every game. It’s OK. That’s the way it is. You hold a team to 30 percent and I like our chances.”

UCLA freshman Tyger Campbell
on how the Bruins secured the victory
“We just stayed locked in on the defensive end. We came out in the second half and knew that they were going to come out on a big run, as every home team does, and we tried to bounce back after they went on it. We just kept playing solid with the ball.”

on how his team improved on defense between Thursday’s loss and Saturday’s win
“I don’t think that it was anything that specific. We just wanted to win, you know. We wanted to split on the road after the loss to ASU. So, we just tried to do that best we could to win this game. We came out on top.”

on the trajectory of this team, having now won five of the past seven games
“Well, we are just taking it one game at a time. It was a great win for us here, this being my first time here, it was amazing. It was amazing playing here. The crowd was amazing.”

on playing in front of a rowdy crowd
“It was good. It definitely kept the energy up. Every play where they’d score, the crowd is yelling. They’d go on a run, so it was big for us to show that we could just come together and weather the storm.”

on the impact of Jalen Hill and a crucial three-point play late in the second half
“I mean, that’s just what he does. He’s a big and tough player. It’s always great to have him on the court. Like you said, in the second half, he was rebounding his head off.”

on the Bruins going on a 14-0 run in the second half
“Well, when you’re out there – I didn’t really realize that we went on a 14-0 run. During the game, we are just taking it one play at a time. Try to score and then get a stop. Every time we scored, we huddle up and talked about how we were going to go back down and get a stop.”

on when he knows when to be in more of an attack mode, on offense
“I wouldn’t say it’s attack. I just want to play hard and win for my team. If that is attacking or if that’s getting in the lane and passing or if that’s rebounding, I just try and do what I need to do to help my team win.”

UCLA sophomore Jalen Hill
on the offensive rebound and putback (and foul) late in the second half
“It felt good. I couldn’t play [Thursday night] at Arizona State, so I just had a lot of pent up energy. I wanted to hype the bench up. We’d been talking, all been together, and that is what you have to do on the road, especially in here. It’s loud. So, when you can get moments like that when the crowd is quiet, you have to let your teammates know.”

on securing the win at Arizona in a tough road environment
“It feels really good. They’re a really good team. They just weren’t really hitting tonight. But I know that they can shoot the ball. They’re just really talented. I mean, it feels good to get the win, to get a split on the road. I feel like this team can play like this all the time. We’ve just got to make sure that we keep doing it.”

on locking in to continue this upward trajectory
“We have to make sure that we keep getting in the gym. Don’t get complacent. We beat a good team, it’s whatever and on to the next game. After today, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to lock in in practice and keep it going.”

on UCLA’s 14-0 scoring run in the second half that helped put the game away
“They had gone on a run prior to that, made it a one-point game. We got to the huddle, and Tyger [Campbell] was like, ‘They made their run, now it’s our turn.’ That’s a big part. You’ve just got to know that every team is going to make a run. It’s a game of runs. You’ve got to know that they made their and now it’s time to make ours.”

on how his right knee feels (missed Thursday’s game with a right knee sprain)
“Oh man, I didn’t feel it in the game when I had got subbed out or timeouts it might get a little stiff, but in the game, nothing bothered me. But now, it’s hurting a little bit but I’ll be fine. I’m about to get iced up, real quick.”

on if he had to convince his way into playing on Saturday
“No, they really trust me. But Coach Cronin made sure that he didn’t pressure me into playing. He wants the best for me, just like he wants the best for everybody else on the team. I just got to listen to my body. I wanted to play at Arizona State, but I had to be honest with myself. I wouldn’t really have been a benefit to my team if I had been out there, anyways. And I just was not feeling 100 percent, or even close to that. I took the rehab seriously and that made it feel better.”

on the Bruins having won five of their past seven games and if there’s a good feeling around that
“Yeah, I mean I feel it but you cannot get complacent. You’ve just got to keep going.”

UCLA junior Chris Smith
on the Bruins’ 14-0 scoring run midway through the second half
“Just playing together. Tyger was keeping us together. Every chance that we could, we huddled, you know, just talked to each other. We just looked to the next play. They got on the 8-0 run and the crowd got into it, but we just stayed together. We got through it.”

on if he thinks this is the best, most complete performance of the season
“I’d say so, yeah, probably. We played 40 minutes together, the first time we’ve played 40 minutes together like this. We played well in the first half and then made them call a timeout, what was it like a minute into the second half? Had never done that before, especially at their place. That was amazing.”

on securing a victory in this environment against a Pac-12 rival
“I love it, man. There is nothing better than when there’s time on the clock and the home fans are leaving. The same fans that were going crazy, talking crazy to you, the same fans leaving with five minutes left to go. There’s nothing better than that.”

on the Bruins holding Arizona to zero 3-pointers in the second half after a tough game at ASU last Thursday
“I mean, shots just weren’t falling for them tonight. They were getting a lot of them back, second and third chance shots in the first half. But as soon as we cut that off, that is when we started making a run. I mean, I can’t say much about that. Our shots were falling. Theirs weren’t. We just trusted in each other. If somebody was open, we made sure they got the ball. On the defensive end, we talked to each other, closed out on shooters and made sure that drivers couldn’t get to the lane.”

on UCLA having won five of seven games and if there is a little more pressure to keep winning
“We want to win every game. Guys are looking for us to win.”

on if there are any noticeable differences since the Bruins won five of seven games
“I’d say the chemistry, our toughness and our defensive effort, for sure. And just playing together. On the offensive end the other night against Arizona State, we weren’t finding the open man. We were taking shots, one on three, stuff like that. We were driving tight gaps. We didn’t do that tonight. And we had been doing a lot of that earlier in the season, and we’re not doing that as much anymore. I’d say that our chemistry, just believing in each other and playing together. That has definitely picked up later in the season.”

on freshman Tyger Campbell’s strong effort
“That guy is a great point guard. You know, probably the purest point guard in college at the moment. You know, you’ve got your scoring point guards. Now, everybody wants to be like Russell Westbrook, Mr. UCLA, but Tyger is a pass-first guy. He just loves when his teammates succeed. That makes him happy. That just pulls the team together. And that makes us play for each other when you have somebody handling the ball every single possession and they can get you the ball when you’re open and that means a lot.”

on Tyger’s ability to be more aggressive on offense
“I just told him, ‘Man, attack when you can.’ We were getting a lot of switches. The bigs were switching out on him, so when you get that, I know that there was one time where I’d set the screen and he had [Stone] Gettings on him. We made eye contact. I told him to attack. I’ll tell him that every single time. If there’s a mismatch, attack, no matter who it is. Especially with Tyger, he can get whatever he wants. When he attacks, he’ll draw defenders and he finds the open man every single time. But yeah, I just told him in there that he hit really big shots tonight. And that is something he can do every night.”

on UCLA having won three straight games at the McKale Center and he has been part of two of those wins
“It’s crazy. My freshman year we won, and I was so happy. I didn’t contribute as much as I did this time. But, you know, it is always fun to get a win in an environment like this where there are probably like a handful of fans, at most, who are cheering us on. I love winning here. It’s a tough team. They play really well. But we just overcame it. And we got the win. I loved it.”

Game summary and Post-game quotes from UCLA Men's Basketball website 

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