Sunday, March 1, 2020

Another thriller! UCLA beats Arizona at home 69-64. Can you say top dawgs of the Pac-12?

from UCLA Athletics
longer v. from Matthew Loves Ball
from UCLA Athletics

UCLA surges, beats Arizona 69-64 for 7th straight win

AP via LOS ANGELES -- A mere six weeks ago, UCLA was 8-9 and in last place in the Pac-12 standings.
When the Bruins closed out a dramatic win over Arizona and then celebrated with their Pauley Pavilion fans in their seniors' final home game Saturday night, the conference standings and UCLA's fortunes had completely flipped.
First-year coach Mick Cronin and his selfless, determined Bruins are on a major roll, and not even the mighty Wildcats could slow them down.
Chris Smith scored 17 points, Tyger Campbell hit the tiebreaking jumper with 49 seconds left and UCLA ferociously rallied from a late deficit to take sole possession of the Pac-12 lead with its seventh consecutive victory, 69-64 over Arizona.
"Just like we drew it up," Cronin said with a laugh. "We were underdogs tonight, and a lot of people still don't believe in us. We've got to continue to play this way. We cannot change our mentality."
That mental toughness has resurrected their season, according to Cronin and his players. Cody Riley and Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 11 points apiece for the Bruins (19-11, 12-5 Pac-12), who didn't lead in the second half before Campbell hit his big shot while tumbling to the court.
Campbell had missed his first 10 shots before making the go-ahead basket. UCLA made only 33.3% of its shots in the game after a horrific start from the field -- missing its first seven shots and hitting just 6 of 26 (23.1%) from the field in the first half.
The Bruins overcame it all.
"We're just believing in ourselves," said Smith, who hit two big shots in the final minutes, including the tying jumper with 1:21 left. "Always continuing to believe. Even when we were 8-9, we believed we could win games, and that's what's happening right now and making the NCAA Tournament a possibility."
UCLA also forced turnovers by the Wildcats (19-10, 9-7) on three consecutive key possessions down the stretch while holding Arizona scoreless for 3:43 before Christian Koloko's layup with two seconds to play.
"It's simple, man," Smith said. "Defense wins."
Arizona coach Sean Miller was ejected with 12:28 to play in a one-point game after earning his second technical foul of the night, and his Wildcats struggled in the waning moments of their third consecutive loss.
"We played great for 34 minutes, and when you play like that in Pauley Pavilion, you usually get the win," said assistant coach Jack Murphy, who took over for Miller.
Nico Mannion had 19 points and six assists for Arizona, and Zeke Nnaji added 16 points. The Wildcats led 62-58 on Nnaji's dunk with 3:45 to play, but they didn't score again until Koloko's meaningless layup.
"It really felt great to get some shots," said Mannion, the NBA prospect who has been in a significant shooting slump for most of the Pac-12 season. "I'm here and sticking with the process."
UCLA moved a half-game ahead of No. 14 Oregon (22-7, 11-5), which didn't play Saturday, atop the conference standings. The Bruins also secured a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.
UCLA has won 11 of 13 since mid-January, and its once-improbable NCAA Tournament hopes appear to be quite plausible after this tremendous late surge. A team that lost to Hofstra, Cal State Fullerton and Washington State earlier in the season grabbed a share of the conference lead with the Ducks on Thursday with a clutch win over Arizona State.
Miller got his first technical foul in the first half when he became apoplectic over a no-call on a blocked layup attempt by Mannion. Miller had saliva dripping down his chin while he screamed at the officials over the call, which appeared to be correct on replays.
Murphy wouldn't speculate on whether Miller had got himself thrown out on purpose after another dubious call.
"I don't know if any technicals are on purpose, but they certainly come from a good place," Murphy said, recalling his own past experience as a head coach. "I just think tonight, Coach was in a good place when it came to what he was discussing with the officials."
Arizona: The Wildcats' ticket to the NCAA Tournament is essentially booked, but three straight defeats raise questions about their ability to succeed on big stages. Arizona didn't play poorly in the second half until the final minutes, but its lack of execution on offense is alarming.
UCLA: The Bruins' winning streak has provided a chance for Cronin to reach his 10th straight tourney after making the last nine straight with Cincinnati. UCLA's success is everything the school hoped when it hired the veteran coach, and the Bruins suddenly appear capable of even more in March.
Arizona hosts Washington State on Thursday night in its penultimate home game of the season.
UCLA travels about 13 miles to face Southern California in the rivals' regular season finale on Saturday.
 UCLA rallies to beat Arizona and claim first place in Pac-12

LA Times
FEB. 29, 2020
10:51 PM

One of the largest crowds of the season jammed into Pauley Pavilion and waited for the fun to begin.
The video board showed one UCLA luminary after another, Sidney Wicks waving and Baron Davis smiling and Gail Goodrich holding a basketball as the honorary captain.
A student won a year’s worth of tuition, fake money floating into the air after he discovered he had the winning box.
For about 38 minutes Saturday night, it seemed like that might be the extent of the entertainment.
The Bruins bricked their way to a considerable deficit against Arizona, dropping themselves into a hole from which even their steady defense couldn’t fully extract them after they followed one empty possession with another.
Point guard Tyger Campbell had missed his first 10 shots when he rose for a jumper with the score tied and less than a minute to play. He banked it in while falling down.
The crowd could finally unleash its frenzy, the Bruins on their way to an improbable 69-64 victory that they pulled out despite one of their worst offensive performances of the season.
“Just like we drew it up,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin cracked afterward.
UCLA shot 33.3% but made the ones it needed to, closing the game on a 13-4 run to move into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins (19-11 overall, 12-5 Pac-12) also made stop after stop, holding Arizona scoreless on six consecutive possessions spanning more than 3½ minutes.
UCLA players ran over to celebrate their seventh consecutive victory with students seated behind one basket after the game, leaping joyously in unison.
“We were feeding off of them, they were screaming the whole time for us, so it was only right that we went and celebrated with them,” Bruins junior guard Chris Smith said after making two late shots to wipe out a four-point deficit. “It was a great feeling for sure.”
The victory before a crowd of 11,567 clinched a bye in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament for the Bruins and gave them their first regular-season sweep of Arizona since the 2012-13 season, which was also the last time they won the conference’s regular-season title. They are in position to do it again after having been tied for last place in the standings as recently as Jan. 17.
Campbell and Smith combined to make only six of 26 shots but closed the game on a tear. With the Bruins trailing by four, Smith made a jump hook and swished a turnaround jumper to tie it at 62-62 with 1:21 left.
Arizona’s Dylan Smith then dribbled out of bounds along the baseline, giving the ball back to the Bruins. Campbell made the most of the opportunity when he banked in his jumper with 49 seconds left.
“I’m yelling at him to attack the guy, use his speed,” Cronin said. “The game was being officiated a certain way, you’ve got to attack. The last thing I wanted there was another kick-out shot and obviously we weren’t lighting it up from the perimeter.”
Arizona guard Max Hazzard then committed another turnover when he lost the ball out of bounds along the sideline and the Bruins made enough free throws to secure the triumph.
Cronin said his team was able to make the needed stops because it had so few fouls, allowing it to turn up the pressure without fear of sending the Wildcats to the free-throw line.
UCLA also took care of the ball after some early sloppiness, committing only one turnover in the second half.
Smith finished with 17 points on five-for-15 shooting, and Cody Riley and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 11 points apiece.
Arizona coach Sean Miller did not see the end, having been ejected with 12:28 left when he picked up a second technical foul after officials reviewed a play and allowed UCLA to keep possession. Arizona guard Nico Mannion scored 19 points but missed a dunk in the final seconds, a fitting end for the Wildcats (19-10, 9-7).
UCLA’s Prince Ali and Alex Olesinski returned to the starting lineup in a nod to senior night in their final home game. Their stay was short. Ali traveled less than a minute into the game and came out shortly thereafter. Olesinski grabbed a defensive rebound but was replaced after less than two minutes of playing time.
It ended up being the kind of sendoff they wanted.
“First place!” a fan yelled in the upper deck. “First place!”

UCLA Closes Strong to Beat Arizona, 69-64

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men's basketball team took its first lead of the second half with 49 seconds remaining in the game and defeated Arizona, 69-64, Friday evening in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom.

Junior Chris Smith scored 17 points to lead the Bruins (19-11, 12-5 in Pac-12 play), who won their seventh game in a row. Redshirt sophomore Cody Riley and freshman Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 11 points apiece off the bench. Jaquez Jr. also collected team highs of seven rebounds and two blocked shots.

Redshirt freshman Tyger Campbell dished out a game-high eight assists without a turnover.

"We were finally able to get some consecutive stops to where we could actually get the lead," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "Guys did a good job with their late-game defense. We had fouls to give, so we were trying to be aggressive. We forced some key turnovers late in the fame."

Nico Mannion registered a game-high 19 points and six assists for the Wildcats (19-10, 9-7). Zeke Nnaji added 16 points. Dylan Smith pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

UCLA missed its first seven shots from the field and saw Arizona push its lead to as many as nine points in the first half. The Bruins got to the free-throw line early and often during the game's first 20 minutes, converting 13 of 18 attempts to keep them in striking distance.

A pair of made free throws by redshirt sophomore Jalen Hill started a 10-0 UCLA run that gave the Bruins a 27-24 lead with 2:23 remaining in the half. The Wildcats closed on a 9-0 run and went into the halftime break with a 33-27 lead.

UCLA reduced its deficit to one point on four occasions in the second half, but Arizona had an answer in each instance until the two-minute mark.

Following a Chris Smith jump-shot that pulled the Bruins even, 62-62, Campbell converted an off-balance runner in traffic to put them ahead with 49 seconds left in the second half. Campbell missed his previous 10 shot attempts before the go-ahead basket. UCLA went on to score 10 unanswered points and closed the game on an 11-2 scoring run.

The Bruins made 29 of their 38 free-throw attempts in the game.

Redshirt seniors Prince Ali and Alex Olesinski, appearing in their final regular-season games at Pauley Pavilion, started for UCLA. They were honored alongside senior Armani Dodson and redshirt junior Isaac Wulff in a pregame ceremony.

The Bruins will conclude their regular season at USC on Saturday, March 7. UCLA's game will be nationally televised on CBS at 12:15 p.m. (PT).

Postgame Quotes - UCLA vs. Arizona
UCLA 69, Arizona 64
February 29, 2020

Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach
opening remarks
“Just like we drew it up. Trailed the entire game. I think we got, it was 62-58, from that point on, I think we got like seven or eight straight stops, I’m not sure… but it was a lot in a row. So, we were finally able to get some consecutive stops to where we could actually get the lead. Guys did a good job with their late-game defense. We had fouls to give, so we were trying to be aggressive… we forced some key turnovers late in the fame. So, it was Chris (Smith) and Jaime (Jaquez Jr.) and Tyger (Campbell) and those guys getting up and really trying to be aggressive, trying to pressure so they couldn’t, obviously, trying to get Nico (Mannion) as much as we can try to get the ball… [Nico] worked to bring it up… He’s a great young player and he had been struggling, so he was due to have a shot-making game, which he did. Whenever you can shoot 33 percent and beat a team that’s, I think 14th in the KenPom or 15th in the KenPom. It’s because we took care of the ball. I think in the second half, I think we might have only had one turnover. We either had six or seven at half. We ended with eight. We got, obviously, a key for us was the foul line. The way that [the Wildcats] were defending us, we had to just keep trying to attack them.”
on Tyger Campbell’s go-ahead basket after missing first 10 shots
“Yeah, I think he thinks I’m nuts, which he would be correct and I’ve been certified a while ago as crazy, but I’m yelling at him to attack the guy. Use his speed. Use his speed and I didn’t want a jumpshot. We had been in the bonus the last 10 minutes, the game was being officiated a certain way, you’ve got to attack. The last thing I want to do is another kick-out shot. Obviously, we weren’t lighting it up from the perimeter. We were getting everything going at the rim [and] getting to the free-throw line. You’ve also got a better chance to rebound it if you attack. But Tyger needs, like, a couple days off. God bless him. The guys extremely, extremely tired. You sit there and say, well, the guy’s a freshman, but they didn’t sit out last year. He didn’t just sit out. He tore his ACL, so he didn’t start light jogging until June, dummy stuff in August, live playing around October 1. He’s been through a lot this year. For me to have to put him… is just the situation that we’re in… We’ve got to get him rested up for next Saturday.”
on how it feels to be in first place
“We’ve come a long way, obviously. Like I told the guys this afternoon, we’re an underdog tonight. A lot of people still don’t believe in us and we’ve got to continue to play one-game tournaments. We cannot change our mentality.”

UCLA junior guard Chris Smith
on what it felt like to celebrate with the UCLA students after the win
“It was great, man. To have such a crowd like we did today, it was great. We were feeding off of them. They were screaming, they were there the whole time for us, so it was only right that we went and celebrated with them. It was a great feeling for sure.”
on how he turned things around in the second half and maintained his confidence, especially shooting from the 3-point line
“Just worrying about the next play. That’s all it is. You can’t be worried about the last play or the last half, whatever it is. Just looking forward to the next play and just trying to be there for my teammates is all it was.”

UCLA freshman guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr.
on if today felt any different for him after shooting the game-winner last game and if it felt special hearing the fans chant his name while he was at the free-throw line during the final seconds
“To he honest, when I’m in the zone like that I can’t really hear anything. Everything just goes quiet. Today was another game. You can’t really think about that or go on that. You’ve got to come out and play this game. My focus was this game. I didn’t really care about anything that happened before or anything coming up ahead. I just focus on the now and getting the W versus Arizona.”
on how the load between he and Tyger Campbell is managed and how they stay fresh
“We practice hard no matter what, but it’s on a lot of us to take care of our bodies, make sure we’re eating right, getting enough sleep – sleep is a big one, drinking a lot of water, staying hydrated, and getting in the cold tub, so getting in the cold tub is something we do a lot.”

UCLA redshirt sophomore forward Cody Riley
on how big going seven of eight from the free-throw line was for his confidence
“It was great to go seven-for-eight. I wish I was eight for eight, but I missed one of them. My teammates just have confidence in me, the coaches, everybody. I work on my game a lot and I work on my free-throws a lot, so I know sooner or later they’re going to start falling, it’s just a matter of confidence and seeing it go in and making it a continuous thing.”
on what it was like to see Tyger Campbell have the confidence to take the shot to take the lead after starting zero for his first 10
“I was super excited for him. I was happy. Something happened with his hand or something. He was a little injured, so I was just so surprised. At the end of the day, we all had confidence in him. Like Chris (Smith) said, we don’t worry about what happened in the past. We all look to the next play, so we’re all just extremely excited for him.”

Arizona assistant coach Jack Murphy
opening statement
“We really had a nice start at the beginning of the game. The guys guarded really well and they were really into it. We were just not able to execute late in the game. We played great for 34 minutes and when you play like that in Pauley Pavilion, you usually get the win.”
on the end of the game
“The guys were great. I just have to call better sets for the guys. I have to do a better job at that. The last two minutes we just kind of fell apart.”
on the play of Nico Mannion
“Offensively, I thought it was his best game of the season for Nico. He had six assists against one turnover.”
on tonight’s performance versus Thursday’s performance
“We were just a different team. We passed the ball and the guys really gave great effort. We were up by four with two minutes to go. We have to bring that one home.”
on where they go from here
“We just have to keep with the same intensity. We have to keep defending. The defense has really gotten better.”

Arizona freshman guard Nico Mannion
on his performance
“I felt good. It really felt great to get some shots.”
on his recent slump
“I’m here and sticking with the process.”
on where they go from here
“Just have to practice. Just going to practice one day at a time and get prepared for Washington State.”

The Box

last game summary, post-game quotes and The Box, photos all from the UCLA Men's Basketball website. 

Bring on SC!!!

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