Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Final 4, Bay-bee!!! #11 UCLA beats #1 Michigan in the Elite 8 51-49

 Johnny Juzang led the Bruin charge with 28 points for the night.


2-min highlight

9-min highlight

Johnny Juzang highlights



Juwan Howard


Bruins Stifle Michigan to Advance to Final Four | INDIANAPOLIS – Behind 28 points from Johnny Juzang, the 11th-seeded Bruins defeated No. 1-seed Michigan, 51-49, on Tuesday to win the NCAA East Regional Final and advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2008.
UCLA (22-9) will face No. 1-seed Gonzaga, the winner of the West Region, in the National Semifinals on Saturday, April 3 at 5:34 p.m. PT/8:34 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game will be televised on CBS.
The Bruins join VCU (2011) as the only teams to advance to the Final Four after starting in the First Four, and become the fifth No. 11 seed to make the Final Four. UCLA held Michigan to a season-low total in points and nearly 28 points under its season average, forcing 14 turnovers and holding the Wolverines to a 39.2 field goal percentage.
Juzang was 11-for-19 from the field, with Tyger Campbell adding 11 points. Jules Bernard posted nine rebounds and four points, Jaime Jaquez Jr. tallied six rebounds, four points and four assists and Kenneth Nwuba played some great defense, grabbing five boards.

Juzang was named the Most Outstanding Player of the East Region, and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Campbell and Jaquez Jr.
After a slugging shooting start for the Bruins, Juzang jump-started the UCLA offense. Down 11-4 midway through the first half, Juzang scored each of the Bruins' next 12 points, with a pair of Jaquez Jr. free throws making it 18-17, giving them their first advantage since they led 4-2 early on.
A Campbell three with a minute remaining gave UCLA a half-best lead of four at 27-23, which would also be the halftime score, as the Bruins ended the first on a 23-12 run. UCLA's stifling defense held Michigan to just 10 field goals, forcing nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Halftime didn't stop the Bruin run, as they scored seven of the first nine points after intermission to get the lead to a game-high nine at 34-25. Michigan (23-5) would make its run, scoring eight points in a row to cut its deficit to one with 12:35 left. The Wolverines eventually re-took the lead at 43-42 at the 7:06 mark.
But the Bruins' defense would rise to the occasion, holding Michigan without a field goal for the final 5:22. Trailing 47-46 with 4:30 left, a Bernard jumper gave UCLA the lead for good. Juzang scored the Bruins' final basket with just over a minute remaining, as a couple of attempts for the Wolverines in the final few seconds rang off the iron to send UCLA to the Final Four.

UCLA 51, Michigan 49
March 30, 2021
Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach
opening remarks
First of all, I'd like to congratulate Coach Howard and Michigan on an unbelievable season. Obviously, they have got great kids, great coaching staff, tremendous program. So, all the best to them and again congrats on their season. As far as us guys, as a Big Ten battle royal game, nobody could find an offensive rhythm and that was just a credit to the defenses. You know, just an unbelievably physical game. It was hard to get bodies off of bodies.

Obviously for us, you know, we rode Johnny as hard as we could with his scoring. Jules Bernard, not 100 percent tonight. You saw him limp -- if anybody noticed him limping in the last game towards the end of the game. Tyger Campbell gave us some offense. I thought their size bothered Jaime a little bit. But he's had an unreal tournament. Didn't get -- I didn't get some of our -- Dave and Jake enough time probably, but I thought the game was such a half-court game, our guys weren't tired. It was just a physical game. I was trying to go with our best defensive lineup.

But all the credit goes to the players. They have been unbelievable to hold Michigan to 49. That's two teams we've held under 50 in this tournament. We held Alabama to 65 in regulation and BYU to 60. Just awesome, awesome effort by our kids and all credit goes to them.”

on how much the game came down to physical and mental toughness  
“I think that's the whole key. Just the resiliency of these guys, somebody told -- it's not on here whenever -- you guys may have it -- whenever Michigan's last field goal was. Somebody told me they didn't get a field goal in the last five minutes.
What you try to preach when you're building a program, and you guys have heard me say this, you know, first of all, April 9th, 2019, I told you, I spell fun w-i-n. And our scoring has been elite, 11 or 12 offense, but tonight it was our defense. You have to find a way to win and these guys are having most fun they have ever had in their life back in that locker room because they won.
I told them I was going to teach them how to win. And you have to be able to win different ways, when things are not going well on the offense, because of the other team, not because of us it, was Michigan. They are 1-seed for a reason, and the Big Ten had, what, ten teams in the tournament and they dominated the conference for the most part.
To find a way to beat them with defense the way we did tonight, obviously extremely proud of our team. It was just resilience. Stats are for losers, you either win or you lose. I think that stat sheet can get crumbled up tonight. Johnny's points were huge, and Tyger had some big baskets. Really happy for him.”
on impact of briefly losing Johnny Juzang to injury and his subsequent return to the court
“Surely it didn't help. You know, there's not much that hasn't happened to us this year as far as losing guys and injuries. You know, he's on two iffy ankles. There was no doubt in my mind he would come back, but obviously while he was out -- look, I don't know what we got up, so, the largest lead isn't on here, either -- there it is, nine. You know what I think maybe we were up nine. Look, they weren't going anywhere. We weren't going to win by double figures tonight. Hunter Dickinson got them some big buckets that got them back in the game. We didn't do a good job a few times and let him get to his left hand. Again, we made a few probably wild ones. He made a wild one off the gas, that was going to happen.
Our defense forced 14 turnovers. That's huge, in a game -- in a low-possession game, to create 14 turnovers, is really why we won, because if say we force eight; they get six more shots off; they probably beat us. Unbelievable effort by our kids defensively.”
on toughness of the team and Kenneth Nwuba’s performance
“Yeah, look, Mac Etienne is going to be a great player. We brought him in to put Wade on him to get him stronger. But the problem is we had to play him. He's done well in practice, but all the running and practice time since Jalen Hill has been gone, he can't gain weight because he's practicing so hard. A game like, this Kenny is obviously a bigger, stronger guy in his third year of college. Look, Kenny has never played that many minutes, I don't think. I think 20 is probably the most in his career. So, he dug deep for us, five big rebounds, great physicality, set some great screens.
Again, stats can be overrated. Here is a guy that didn't score but you brought his name up for a reason. He had a big impact on the game physically. Other games you go small, we play Jaylen Clark at the five and he's 6-4, but you didn't do that against Michigan. We had to go big today. Kenny was huge.
I think your original -- our toughness, it's been great all year. You just can't win them all. We caught some bad breaks. Some of those, you've got to take your hat off to the other team. Some of it we had a few missed free throws. It was our fault. We won it on the defensive end. We didn't foul. We didn't give up a layup. We forced shots over us down the stretch and that was the whole key. We forced shots over us.”
on if he could imagine being in the Final Four in his second year as Head Coach
“No, look, that's why I laughed. You know, look, we lost, when we lost Daeshin Nix to the G League, and then you lose Chris Smith and Jalen Hill, if I had told you those three -- the guys that follow us every day, if I had told you guys last May when we were all in lockdown, you guys would have said, "You're not making the NCAA tournament." Nobody would have said you're going to the Final Four, let's be honest. So no, Bill.
Now, quietly, when we had those three guys, quietly I told my dad, I've got a chance to have my best team ever, after Johnny committed to us. When Johnny signed and got cleared to play this year, and then you had Tyger and Chris Smith and Johnny and all these guys and Jalen Hill is on the team, you've got experience and you've got athleticism.”
on how much he has seen Juzang grow since Chris Smith’s injury
“Really, he was -- he was awesome in October. Then, you know, he had a stress reaction in his foot and we had to shut him down. But even though when he was -- he was playing well in practice. I knew he was going to need game minutes because, you know, it's just different. So, my plan was that -- I knew for us to get here, I was going to have to let him play through -- play through things and teach him shot selection. What I tried to teach him is that -- what he did tonight. He's got 11 baskets but only two threes. So, he's more of a scorer than a shooter, and I think that's what he got labeled at Kentucky and I wanted him to get rid of that mindset. We really worked hard on his mid-range and him going to the basket. You know, but he's grown immensely and you know, obviously -- I knew for us -- back to Bill, I knew for us to evolve, he was the guy that was going to have to evolve for us.”
on manufacturing the game possession-by-possession
“Hey, again, look, I like to give the kids credit. The play you alluded to, out of a time-out, the guys ran perfectly. Something I kept in my pocket to get a bucket late. When Johnny is hot, I use him as a screener. I thought if he set a guy -- I told him, you've got to set the screen, I think Cody will be wide open, your man won't help because the way he's shooting the ball, and Jaime threw a great pass and Cody got it up.
You can draw stuff up, but the kids have got to execute. Obviously, there's – there are four teams still left and we understand what's ahead of us. But to get this far, you know, we can't just rip-and-roar, because we've talked enough about the guys that are not here, and Cody's foul trouble is an issue for us, and it makes it challenging.
Again, you have to -- each game management, that's what you're paid for. I have a great coaching staff that I hired for a reason. So, they helped me out a lot. It's not a one-man band.”
on what it means to make it to the Final Four with UCLA
“Well, look, obviously you know, I knew what I was -- I knew the expectations, right. I mean, it's pretty clear at UCLA. I think -- I thank Dan Guerrero for believing in me. I tried to convince him that and the guys that were around him with this, that I understood it and I wanted it. You know, Coach Pitino is like an older brother to me and he used to say, "I'd rather live one day as a lion than a thousand as a lamb." It's like I told my father, "If I don't take this job, I'll feel like a lamb."
I felt like I accomplished a lot at Cincinnati and I felt good about the fact that I gave everything I could to that position every day from my heart, and it was just time. It was time for a change and a challenge for me professionally, as well as I thought that it would be great for my daughter, as well.
But yeah, sure, we're not done. Tomorrow is never promised. This is great, but we've got work to do. And, you know, hopefully I'll be around to keep trying to chase the tradition and the expectations at UCLA. But it takes players. I don't like talking about it because players win games, and I really appreciate these guys for allowing me to coach them.”
sophomore guard Johnny Juzang  
on if there was anything different in his mentality ahead of tonight’s game  
“Not really, actually. Just approached it like another game. We've been super locked-in to this tournament. You don't want to -- as a player, you don't like add pressure to yourself. I know the whole team was just worried about we're going to leave it out there on the floor and we're going to give it everything we've got. I mean, the shot just happened to go in and teammates are finding me. I wouldn't say anything different.”
on the moments and celebrations after winning
“Unreal, man. Unreal. I love every single one of these guys. It's incredible, man. Surreal. Surreal. Something, you know, growing up, you just dream about. And to do it with such an amazing group of guys, such incredible staff, such incredible coaches, makes it just so wonderful. It's beautiful. It's beautiful sharing this moment with, you know, your brothers and just great, great people. Incredible.”
on transferring to UCLA and how he feels about everything to this point
“First, the transition, I was welcomed with warm, open arms, man. So, I was just welcomed to this team from day one. So, you know, it's been amazing. And then, you know, just working with these guys and learning and growing all together, and just being pushed, obviously we've had our ups and downs during the season, but it's such a beautiful thing, you know, the way that we have come together for this postseason. And just to -- it's just a feeling of everybody's just so unified. It's like one, just, unit, and we're just all sharing in each other and rooting for each other. I mean, I think that's why we're at this point and just playing for each other. Just a lot of love, man.
We're not done yet. But you know, so far, it's been beautiful, the ups and downs, and that makes moments like this even more special. Even more special.”
on whether Mick Cronin being labeled a defensive-minded coach influenced his decision to transfer to UCLA
“Not all, man. First, there's just something inexplainable. I just felt something about Coach, just such a genuine guy, and it was first -- something it was just intuition and I just felt it. I felt that he was just genuine, so that was the first thing. His reputation, I had no second thoughts. It is also what drew -- I knew that he was hard. I knew that he was intense. I knew that he was defensive-minded, and those are things that drew me, I wanted that. I wanted to be pushed.
On top of the first thing I said, it drew me to him. I knew that he would push me and hold me accountable and challenge me, and I knew he -- and I wanted to play for a program where obviously he does that for everybody. So, you know, I want to be part of a winning program with, you know, winning standards, and, you know, a level of accountability to win games. So, I actually would just say it's the opposite, man, it really drew me to play for Coach. Obviously, it's been incredible.”
on team’s defense against Franz Wagner
“Well, you know, the coaches do such a great job with our scouting reports and game preparation. All we've got to do is go out there and execute. But the plan, we knew he was a strong right-hand driver. We had some of their plays and actions kind of scouted out. You know, guys went out and executed great. Tried to take away those things and slow him down. But you know, they are a great team. You know, so credit to them. They got some really good players, and so yeah, but our coaches did a great job with the scouting. We just had to go execute.”
on support he and the team have received
Yeah, man, I don't want to leave anybody out. Obviously, first and foremost, my family. My girlfriend. My family's been out here obviously my whole life but they have been out here supporting me and that's been so wonderful. My girlfriend is so supportive and she pushes me, and all my friends. They all know who they are, man. And then obviously, you mentioned Harvard-Westlake, Coach Rebibo, and my trainer, Dash. I don't want to leave everybody out but everybody knows who they are, man. I'm so grateful to have the people I do in my life and so obviously I'd be nothing without them. I'm just super lucky to have so much support in my life, and everybody knows who they are. So, you know who you are. I'm sorry, you know, if I didn't hit on it but I'm just kind of in the moment right now. Blessed to have so much great support.
on if he had to talk anyone into letting him back on the court after his injury
“No, I didn't have to talk to anybody. I just stepped off and got some treatment and got some heavier tape. I knew I was going to be ready. I just needed a second to, you know, get it taken care of. But you know, the adrenaline and -- I'll feel it tonight -- but the adrenaline, I wasn't really too worried about it. I felt it, but you I knew I would be back -- I didn't have to talk to anybody. So, once I was ready; my coaches believe in me and I'm so lucky for that. So, I was able to get right back in there and contribute.”
on importance of getting back out there to help the team down the stretch
“For sure, man, it's March Madness. I was trying to get out there as quick as I can to help my brothers. So you know, I was over there, you know, I kind of just looked back at the floor checking on what's going on, and our trainer did such a great job. You know, he took care of me and he got me right out there really quick. But no, I definitely was, you know, trying to get out there as quick as I could. You know, so we got some lion-hearted guys on this team. We got some warriors, man. It kind of -- it kind of, you know, checks everybody because the guy to your right is putting his heart on the floor and the guy to your left is putting his heart on the floor. I know I've got an injury or whatever, but I'm getting right back out there because I'm trying to leave my heart on the floor. Just kind of that spirit with the team. You know, everybody's trying to do it, so I did feel, obviously, trying to get out there and fight with my brothers.”

The Box

Team Stats post-Michigan

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