Sunday, February 23, 2020

UCLA beats #18 Colorado on the road 70-63. Bruins now 17-11, 10-5. Tied for 2nd place in the Pac-12.

Pac-12 Networks

UCLA men's basketball came-from-behind on the road to shock No. 18 Colorado on Saturday in a 70-63 thriller in Boulder. The Bruins trailed by as much as nine points in the second half but went on a 12-0 run late in the games final 10 minutes to clinch the comeback. Big games from Tyger Campbell (15 points, 11 assists) and Cody Riley (16 points) paved the way for UCLA, which improves to 3-2 against ranked teams and 17-11 overall. Colorado saw its 6-game home winning streak snapped and falls to 21-7 on the season.

21:45 min-worth of highlights from Matthew Loves Ball

Bruins rally in 2nd half to beat No. 18 Colorado, 70-63

AP via - BOULDER, Colo. -- The NCAA Tournament was unlikely for UCLA four games into the Pac-12 Conference schedule. With three games to go in the regular season, the Bruins are making a case to get there.
"All that stuff takes care of itself if you win games," coach Mick Cronin said.
UCLA added another solid win to its resume, rallying from nine down to beat No. 18 Colorado 70-63 on Saturday. The Bruins tied the Buffaloes atop the Pac-12 standings.
Tyger Campbell had seven of his 15 points during a 20-3 UCLA run in the second half and added 11 assists. Cody Riley scored 16 points, 14 in the second half. UCLA (17-11, 10-5) has won nine of its last 11.
"This is surreal. To come in here and quiet that big huge crowd and get a win on senior night? That's surreal," said Chris Smith, who had 14 points and a career-best four 3-pointers.
The Bruins started 1/3 in the conference but have surged to the top after going 2-0 in the Rocky Mountain region in their last trip out of Los Angeles before the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas next month.
"Obviously it's a big win to come on the road to get a sweep of Utah and Colorado but we're just taking it one game at a time," Campbell said.
McKinley Wright IV had 20 points for Colorado, which sent its two seniors off with a loss in the final home game of the season.
The Buffaloes (21-7, 10-5) missed a chance to retain sole possession of first place in the league. They have three games left, all on the road, but will need to sweep and get help to capture their first regular-season Pac-12 title. Two of their five losses have come against the Bruins.
On Saturday, UCLA stunned the sellout crowd of 11,214 at the CU Events Center.
"This one stings because it was senior night," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "Shane (Gatling) and Lucas (Siewert) deserve better than they got from the team tonight, and their coaches."
Colorado led 50-41 with 12:34 remaining but missed 10 straight shots and had only three free throws over the next 9:53. UCLA capitalized with a big run, scoring 14 straight in one stretch.
Campbell put the Bruins ahead for good with a 3-pointer to make it 53-50, and Jake Kyman made it 61-53 with a jumper.
Wright hit two 3-pointers to cut the Bruins' lead to 66-63 but UCLA held on.
"It's senior day, they're playing for the Pac-12 title, it's huge," Cronin said. "Nine down with 12 to play, on the road against a great team. They're playing all juniors and seniors, you're playing freshmen and sophomores and you're able to pull it out? It's monstrous."
UCLA: The 9-2 stretch has put the Bruins in position to contend for the conference title but they'll likely need to sweep their remaining games. Fortunately for them, the last three are all in LA -- home against Arizona and Arizona State and at Southern Cal in the final game.
Colorado: The Buffaloes are still alive, barely, for their first regular-season conference title. They'll need to sweep three road games and hope UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State stumble.
UCLA freshman Jaime Jaquez Jr. missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:24 left, giving Colorado a chance to tie it with a 3-pointer. Jaquez got some jeers from the sellout crowd, but he quieted the arena when he hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds remaining to put the Bruins ahead by six.
"I was just thinking I've got to hit this shot (after) I missed the free throw," Jaquez said. "I wasn't paying attention to the crowd but they were telling me things after. I must be their favorite player or something."
UCLA: Hosts Arizona State on Thursday night.

LA Times
FEB. 22, 2020 7:05 PM

BOULDER, Colo. — 

They could see it, on the clipboard that showed UCLA barely had any of its beloved deflections.
They could feel it, in the din of a sellout crowd that reverberated through the old arena with each basket the Bruins gave up.
They could hear it, through the words of a coach who no longer recognized a team that had fallen behind by nine points.
“This isn’t who we are,” Mick Cronin told his players in the timeout huddle Saturday afternoon almost midway through the second half. “They’ve got 50 points with 12:38 left to play, we’re going to give up 80. Them days are over, guys. This is not who we are anymore.”
Over the final taut minutes, with those words echoing in their heads, Cronin’s players showed that they were something else entirely. The Bruins were tougher and smarter and just better, rallying for a 70-63 victory over No. 18 Colorado at the CU Events Center that sustained an epic late-season surge.
When it was over, the defense having been tightened, the steely shot-making having endured, the turnovers having been eliminated entirely in the second half, UCLA junior guard Chris Smith hurled the ball toward the rafters in celebration of a season-high fifth consecutive victory that greatly enhanced the Bruins’ NCAA tournament chances.
“The feeling is indescribable,” Smith said after the Bruins (17-11 overall, 10-5 Pac-12 Conference) pulled into a tie with the Buffaloes (21-7, 10-5) near the top of the Pac-12 standings, a spot that seemed inconceivable after UCLA started conference play with three losses in its first four games. “We are the toughest team in this division by far.”
It wasn’t empty praise, the Bruins having swept their season series against the same Colorado team that several notable Buffaloes alumni had called the best in school history in a local newspaper column that ran Saturday.
It took a teamwide effort. Freshman shooting guard Jake Kyman made two three-pointers off the bench in the first half for the Bruins. Freshman point guard Tyger Campbell logged a career-high 11 assists while thriving in the pick and roll. Sophomore forward Cody Riley made an impressive array of moves around the basket on the way to a team-high 16 points.
None of it would have mattered had the Bruins not found the defensive identity that had gone missing. During one stretch of roughly 23 minutes spanning both halves that ended with Cronin berating his players in the timeout huddle, the Bruins had made only one deflection defensively. The Buffaloes drove unimpeded for layups and dunks as a result, building a 50-41 lead and thrilling the fifth-biggest crowd in the history of this arena.
The rest of the cheering belonged almost exclusively to the Bruins.
They scored 14 consecutive points, Smith clapping furiously as he backpedaled after making a three-pointer that pulled his team into a 50-50 tie. Cronin applauded his team’s toughness about a minute later, marching onto the court to slap hands with Riley during a timeout after Riley had forced a jump ball amid a scrum of bodies.
A Riley jump hook eventually completed the run, giving UCLA a 55-50 lead. The Buffaloes countered, but the Bruins refused to let up. Freshman guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. extended his team’s advantage to 66-60 with 58 seconds left, shrugging off a missed free throw on the front end of a one-and-one situation only moments earlier to sink a three-pointer.
“I was just thinking, I’ve got to hit this shot right now,” Jaquez said. “I missed a free throw, so I’ve got to get it back.”
Colorado’s McKinley Wright IV (20 points) countered with his own three-pointer with 46 seconds left, but the 6-foot point guard had the misfortune of switching onto the 6-9 Riley down low on UCLA’s next possession. Riley made a layup with 24 seconds remaining to extend the Bruins’ advantage to 68-63 and Colorado missed its final three shots.
“When it was time to make a big play,” Riley said, “everybody stepped up.”
Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle took a microphone and apologized to fans afterward because his team couldn’t send out its two seniors in winning fashion during their final home game. The Bruins had no regrets about that.
“To come in here and quiet that big huge crowd and get a win on senior night,” Smith said, pausing to gather his thoughts, “oh, it’s surreal.”
This was one instance in which the stats told the story. UCLA notched 14 deflections over the final 13 minutes and went the entire second half without a turnover after committing seven in the first half.
The Bruins did it with heart, a group of mostly freshmen and sophomores listening to their coach and realizing they were exactly who he said they were.
“I love this group,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen a group rally like we did today. We were down nine, they were scoring every possession, the crowd was into it and we stuck together, came back and got a tough win.”

UCLA Outlasts No. 18 Colorado on the Road, 70-63

BOULDER, Colo. – Cody Riley scored a team-leading 16 points and Chris Smith made a career-high four 3-pointers to lead UCLA past No. 18 Colorado, 70-63, at the CU Events Center on Saturday afternoon.

UCLA (17-11, 10-5 Pac-12) secured its fifth consecutive win and its ninth victory in the team's last 11 games. In addition, the Bruins notched their third straight win over a top-25-ranked opponent.

Tyger Campbell scored 15 points and had a career-high 11 assists, recording his first collegiate double-double. Campbell had 11 assists and just one turnover, as the Bruins did not commit any turnovers in the second half.

Smith finished with 14 points, sinking 4 of 6 shots from 3-point distance, as UCLA picked up the regular-season series sweep over Colorado (21-7, 10-5 Pac-12).

The Bruins trailed at halftime, 29-26, and Colorado pushed its advantage to nine points – 50-41 with 12:34 to play – before UCLA outscored the Buffaloes 29-13 over the final 11:30.

"I'll tell you, it is a lot more fun when you win, obviously," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "And you know the buy-in is there. If you win on national TV, it helps with recruiting. I came to UCLA for the long haul. Even when we were struggling, I was just focused on who we were going to be and not the result that day."

McKinley Wright scored a team-leading 20 points for Colorado, connecting on 8 of 14 shots. Tyler Bey had 13 points and six rebounds, and Evan Battey finished with 11 points.

UCLA led Colorado through the game's final seven minutes. The Bruins tied the contest, 50-50, on a 3-point shot by Smith with 8:50 to play. After a block by Riley, Campbell hit a 3-pointer before Riley added a layup to give the Bruins a 55-50 cushion.

Colorado trimmed the Bruins' advantage to three points – 63-60 – with 1:19 to play before Jaime Jaquez Jr. made a key 3-pointer for UCLA, putting the Bruins ahead, 66-60.

The Buffaloes responded with a 3-pointer by Wright at the 50-second mark.

Leading 66-63, UCLA scored on a layup by Riley with 24 seconds remaining. UCLA's defense clamped down and got a stop before Smith drew a foul and hit both of his ensuing free throw attempts.

UCLA earned its first sweep of Utah and Colorado since January of 2013. In addition, the Bruins registered their first Pac-12 road sweep since the 2016-17 season.

The Bruins will return to action at home on Thursday night, hosting Arizona State in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. Game time is 8 p.m. (PT). The Bruins' game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

Postgame Quotes – UCLA at Colorado

UCLA 70, Colorado 63
Boulder, Colo. (CU Events Center)
February 22, 2020

Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach
on what went right with the Bruins in the second half
“Well, it was the last 12 minutes. I’ll tell you, we came out and had six deflections by the first TV timeout, so it was around 15 minutes. From 15 in the first half to 12:30 in the second half, 23 minutes roughly, we had one deflection. They are too good. You have to try to take something away. You have to play with more energy and intensity or they are going to call you out. They have too many good players. I talked to the guys and said, ‘Guys, this isn’t who we are, they get 50 points with 12:38 to play, we are going to give up 80, and those days are over, this is not who we are anymore.’ You have to give our guys credit. They came out of that timeout, we executed, got a bucket and stopped giving up layups. We stopped getting beat. We locked them down defensively, and our communication was better, but from that point on we had 14 deflections, 14 pieces of the ball, at some point, defensively. Our defense from that point on is why we won. That and we got a shot off every time in the second half. I mean, to play in the second half here, with no turnovers, you know, with a freshman point guard. Jaime is a freshman. Jake is a freshman. Cody and Jalen are sophomores. Chris is a junior, but he really hasn’t, you know, he’s been a bit player. But we have gained experience. We have learned on the fly. We’ve grown up.”

on what made the difference in securing the win
“Well, like I just said, our defense. In a lot of these games, for the last 10 minutes, or for us the last 12 minutes, we stopped giving up layups. Even some of the baskets they made were hard shots.”

on UCLA’s strong offensive surge late in the second half
“We did a really great job. Tyger just did a great job with his pick and roll offense, where he was scoring, he was hitting the roll guy, or he was hitting the shooter. He just did an excellent job with his decision making off the pick and roll. And guys made big plays. Cody was big around the basket. Jake knocked down some big shots. Jaime knocked down a big one. And then Tyger got down the lane a couple times and scored. Offensively, that pick and roll was really our answer.”

on the Bruins seeming to have an answer for anything the opposition has thrown at them
“Yeah, you know, we’re day to day. As you know, I can still remember November and December, so. But also it makes me realize how fragile it all is, where you can start to revert back. But you know, I am happy for the kids. When you are trying to build your program and you preach certain things, and they do it and then it’s reinforced with victory, then players are playing well. So they look better. Then in theory they’ll listen to you more. They’re looking for shot selection. Cody is posting up. He and Coach Savino have worked really hard. Mike [Lewis] and Rod [Palmer] have done a great job with our perimeter guys with shot selection, shot preparation and not forcing things. And that is why you have no turnovers.”

on if his team made a concerted effort to shut down Colorado’s perimeter game
“We have really changed a lot with our defense. We’ve gotten much better. We have gotten better at guarding the ball. We hadn’t been defending very well. We had got beat so much where we were always helping and team were raining threes against us, early in the season. We’ve got much better at guarding the ball. Today’s game, if you can’t guard the ball and you start helping all the time, everybody can shoot and they really can shoot. Coming into today, they were making nine threes per game. And in their last five games, they’d been making 9.6 threes per game. And what did they make today? And they had some tough ones late to get there.”

on whether his team is making a compelling case for an NCAA Tournament berth
“Well, I’d hope that people are taking notice. It’s what quadrant the team was in when we beat them. I just try and worry about coaching. If we keep winning, it won’t be a problem. Those guys all get paid to write that stuff, but the same guys were also projecting us to go 4-14 in league. I don’t blame them. They just do numbers. All of that stuff will take care of itself if you just win games, especially when you are playing teams the we’re playing down the stretch.”

on if he allows himself to enjoy these moments, the winning streak, etc.
“I’ll tell you, it is a lot more fun when you win, obviously. And you know the buy-in is there. If you win on national TV, it helps with recruiting. I came to UCLA for the long haul. Even when we were struggling, I was just focused on who we were going to be and not the result that day. I just would hope, if I were a fan, I would want my coach to not get caught up in things that people say. Like, something tells me that Bill Belichick is not worrying about what people think. He just worries about coaching football. I don’t know the man. Obviously, he’s probably the best football coach ever, but I am just going to guess that he focuses on his job and what you’ve got to do to get better. The hardest part today is keeping the kids focused on that. Today’s kid, the sky is falling because that it says on Twitter.”

on the significance of UCLA’s road win
“Oh, it’s monstrous. I mean, how many teams are going to come in here and win? And it’s late, it’s Senior Day, and they are playing for the Pac-12 title, you know. That’s huge. To be able to come in here when you are nine down with 12 to play, right? And on the road against a great team. They were playing all juniors and seniors. We were playing freshman and sophomores and you are able to pull it out. It’s monstrous for us. Every time we win the next game gets bigger.”

on what the message to the team was at halftime
“I thought that, first of all, Jake Kyman had two big threes that kept us in it. When you are playing a team like this on the road, you just have to stay in the game. You can’t get blown out. Those were monstrous. But we missed layups, Jaime missed a dunk, we missed a lot of point-blank shots around the rim, and we got some good looks. So, offensively we were okay. The ball just wasn’t going down for us, our problem was with the defense.”

UCLA freshman guard Tyger Campbell
on the Bruins’ comeback and the team’s steady offense
“You know, we just played as a team and we played with heart in the second half. We were only worried about one play at a time. We always know the home team is going to go on a run. We just tried to weather the storm, like we did when we had the comeback.”

on whether he can recall ever going through a half with no turnovers as a team
“Not that I can think of, off the top of my head.”

on UCLA’s defense in the second half, limiting Colorado’s offense
“We were just buying into what Coach Cronin was telling us. He was just telling us, one stop at a time. He wasn’t getting down on us if we got beat. He was just saying to get to the next play. That was our motto in the locker room. We can’t get our heads down, just get on to the next play and play as hard as you can.”

on being able to sustain this winning streak and keep moving with the momentum
“I wouldn’t say it’s just this game. I’d say that, me personally, I’ve always had faith in my guys, in this team. We are finally putting it get together and getting some wins.”

on how much confidence his team had entering this team
“Obviously it helped, knowing that we’d beat them at home. But we go into every game, like Coach Cronin says, it’s a one-game tournament. Nobody is different, especially in this league. Anybody can beat you at any time. You’ve got to just come out and play with heart.”

on how UCLA got a mismatch with Cody Riley being guarded in the post by McKinley Wright
“We were just setting good screens. If you set good screens, then my man can’t get through. The big has to help more. And he’s sort of late getting back to his man, and we just kept hitting him and finishing around the basket. I just give credit to those guys. They were doing great in the second half.”

on Jaime Jaquez Jr. nailing a big 3-pointer in the final two minutes
“Yeah, I told him after he’d missed the free throw, ‘I’m coming right back to you, you’ve just got to keep shooting. I’ve got faith in you.’”

on whether this game and these moments are really exciting
“Every game is exciting for me. Obviously, this is a big win to come on the road and get a road sweep at Utah and Colorado. But, like I said, we’re just taking this one game at a time. It’s a one-game tournament. We’ve got the Arizonas next week, and we’re just going to lock in for that.”

on how UCLA has improved so much as the season has progressed
“It’s just buying into what Coach Cronin has been preaching to us – just defense, defense, defense.”

UCLA junior Chris Smith
on the Bruins’ strong defensive effort late in the second half
“Yeah, I definitely would say it was more defense. We were just feeding Cody at the end, just like we were a couple of games ago. It was definitely the defense that got us back into the game. We didn’t give them any more second shots, like you said, and we didn’t have any turnovers [in the second half], so they didn’t have any fast break points.”

on connecting on a career-high in 3-pointers
“I just know that when my teammates pass me the ball, they want me to shoot it. So if I’ve got some breathing room, I can see the rim and I feel good about it, I’m going to put it up. How many did I make? Four, geez, that is a real low career high. But yeah, I got a lot of shots up before the game. I was really feeling good about it. The ball felt good coming out of my hand.”

on if he feels like his team is in the middle of something very special
“Yeah, for sure. We are the toughest team in this division. We got out-rebounded in the first half. I don’t know what the rebound margin was in the second. But we definitely picked it up. And definitely toward the end of the game, when we had to hit the glass really hard. But we’re just playing really tough and are playing together and hard on defense. That is what has gotten us here.”

on the mismatch late in the second half with Cody Riley being guarded by McKinley Wright
“That was really big. You usually can’t get Cody on the point guard. You’ve got to give it to him. You’ve got to.”

on the late 3-point basket by Jaime Jaquez Jr.
“He had missed a free throw, and I was like, ‘Bro, forget about it.’ He had the ball. I was screaming and I’m not sure he heard me, but he was on the wing and I was screaming, ‘Shoot it.’ I was crashing, so shoot the ball.”

on what the mood was like with his team when UCLA trailed by nine in the second half
“You know, we knew what we were doing wrong. And we knew what we had to do, what we had to change moving on in the game. And that was defensive effort. We had seven deflections all the way until 13 minutes left in the second half. So 14 deflections in 13 minutes, that is really good. We knew that we had to pick up our defense and we knew that we had to stay together. Nobody in that crowd was rooting for us.”

on how good of a feeling it is, defeating Colorado on the road
“It’s surreal. I was telling the guys after the first one [on Jan. 30], ‘Man, I’ve never beat this team before.’ I just wanted to win. When we won at home, I was so happy. And then to come in here and just, quiet that big huge crowd, and get a win on Senior Night, it’s surreal, I don’t know.”

UCLA freshman Jaime Jaquez Jr.
on his initial thoughts about beating Colorado
“It was a heck of a win.”

on how the team overcame a nine-point deficit in the final 13 minutes of regulation
“It was just about staying together, staying with our game plan. We knew that they were going to go on some runs. They were at home. It was their Senior Night. We were expecting them to come out and give us everything they’ve got. We just had to be prepared. Basketball is a game of runs. They’re going to go on some runs and then we are going to come right back.”

on if he had heard the fans chanting at him when he shot a free throw late and then later made a 3-pointer
“Oh, no, I was just thinking that I had to hit this shot right now. I had missed a free throw, so I’ve got to get it back. So yeah, I wasn’t really paying attention to the crowd. They were telling me some things after, I guess I must be their favorite player or something, I don’t know.”

on if the team got tense once they were trailing nine, with about 13 minutes to play
“When down nine? No, we’ve got to keep our head on the bigger picture. We were down nine with a lot of time left to go. We just kept going. We were trying to get our shot, get stops on defense and once we did that, we were right back into the game.”

on where that 3-point basket ranks, as far as the most meaningful shots in his career
“That was a big one, for sure. That was a big one. It was probably my first, you know, really big college – that and the two free throws that I made against Washington. I’d say those are the two biggest baskets in college, so far.”

on his team having really come together in the last month and why that is
“Definitely defense. I think that everyone just staying in front of their man right now. We are playing really great team defense. Team defense wins. And we’re winning, so.”

on what it feels like to have won five in a row
“It feels great. I mean, a lot of our guys – we are having good chemistry right now. We’re getting along really well, like we have been the entire season. Things are just clicking. Winning is fun. I’m having a great time right now.”

on whether he feels like his team is just getting started
“Definitely. I feel like we are just getting started. We are showing what we can be as a team. We’ve still got a lot of proving to do. And once we get there, I think once we get to our end goal, being the best team that we can be, we’re going to be really good. Really good team.”

UCLA sophomore Cody Riley
on having a mismatch against Colorado’s McKinley Wright in the final minutes
“It was nothing special. I mean, they decided to switch it, so we just took advantage of it. It was late clock and there was no help, so we just threw it over the top and it was an easy layup.”

on the Bruins showing defensive toughness (and not committing any second-half turnovers)
“Yeah, for sure in the second half. It was big that we stayed together. Everybody kept their confidence up. When it was time to make a big play. It wasn’t just me or Tyger. You know, it was the whole team, even with defensive plays that don’t really show up in a stat book. We needed everybody to get the win here.”

on keeping their mood up when trailing by nine points midway through the second half
“We know that basketball is a game of runs. So, there is going to be adversity and tough times, but as long as we stay together, give our best effort, you know, we’ll come out with a victory like we did today.”

on Colorado missing some second-half shots and if he sensed the opposition was tightening up
“That was just a confidence boost for us, because we were just getting back to who we are, just playing defense and, you know, forcing teams to take hard shots and miss them. Then all we had to do was to come up with the rebounds.”

on his ability to finish around the basket and how much he’s improved over the last few weeks
“I think it’s just realizing where I am on the floor, patience, there’s nothing really to it. Sometimes the ball falls and sometimes the ball doesn’t. I’ve just got to keep my confidence up.”

on what it feels like to have won nine of the last 11 games
“It feels great. We know that we’re hot right now. So we know that the next team we play, we’ll get their best shot, for sure. But it’s good to know that we’ll be back in Pauley.”

on whether he hopes that more fans will attend UCLA’s upcoming home games
“Yeah, hopefully. It would be great to have everybody come out to Pauley. We’ve got to keep this rolling. That would be great. We’re just focused on winning games.”

on if he feels like his team is making a good case for the NCAA Tournament
“I don’t know too much about like how the rankings work and the NCAA Tournament, but I know that we are going to keep rolling, trying to win every game that we play, these next three.”

The Box

Last game summary, post-game quotes and The Box courtesy of the UCLA Men's Basketball website (link)

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