Game Recap: Men's Basketball |
UCLA Storms Back, Tops Michigan St. in NCAA First Four
The Bruins (18-9) trailed by 11 points at halftime, but stormed back late to force overtime before dominating the extra session to take the win.
UCLA closed the game on a 14-3 run, notching the program's first overtime win in the NCAA Tournament since taking down top-seeded Cincinnati in double-OT by a score of 105-101 on Mar. 17, 2002. It was the Bruins' first win in any NCAA Tournament game since Mar. 19, 2017, also against Cincinnati.
Four separate Bruins finished in double figures on Thursday, led by Jaquez Jr.'s career-best night. Junior guard Jules Bernard (11 points, eight rebounds) and redshirt junior forward Cody Riley (11 points, six rebounds) also had solid two-way performances.
Michigan State (15-13) was paced by forward Aaron Henry's 18 points.
"We huddled up at halftime as a coaching staff and tried to turn up the heat defensively in the second half and tried to make them uncomfortable as much as we could," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "The kids responded and I thought our intensity level obviously went way up in the second half defensively."
Juzang scored the first four points of overtime, putting UCLA up for good after opening the extra session with a post-up lay-up. He drove in from the left wing on the following possession and hit a running jumper to make it a four-point game for the Bruins. The Spartans would never get closer than three points the rest of way.
Trailing by double-digits heading into the locker room at halftime, the Bruins wasted no time getting back in the game once the second half started, going on a 9-2 run out of the gate to cut the deficit to four at 46-42. UCLA would stay within double digits from there on out.
The Bruins took their first lead since early in the first half after Jules Bernard absorbed contact and connected on a left-handed layup to make it 67-66 with 5:48 remaining in the second half, setting up a back-and-forth battle down the stretch.
UCLA found itself trailing, 77-72, with 1:29 remaining after a pair of Henry free throw makes, but the Bruins would score the final five points of the half to send it to overtime.
A spectacular individual effort from Jaquez Jr. produced the game-tying play. After missing the front end of a one-and-one, Jaquez pounced on his own rebound to create a second chance possession for the Bruins. A few moments later, sophomore guard Tyger Campbell found Jaquez Jr. down low, and he sunk a layup while absorbing contact to get sent to the line with a chance to tie the game. Jaquez Jr. converted on the ensuing free throw, and UCLA got a stop on the other end to end regulation in a 77-77 deadlock.
Michigan State used a balanced offensive attack – four different players scored seven points or more, and the team shot 56.7% from the field – to control the first half. Jaquez Jr. kept the Bruins afloat with a team-high 14 points in the opening half.
The Bruins advance to face No. 6-seeded BYU in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Mar. 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. PT. The game will be televised nationally on CBS.
Postgame Quotes – UCLA 86, Michigan State 80 (OT)
UCLA 86, Michigan State 80 (OT)
West Lafayette, Ind.
March 18, 2021
Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach
“Well, obviously happy with our guys. We've been through a tough year with injuries and losing guys and then recently struggled to close some games out and – despite playing well at times. So the players really needed this. So I'm really, really happy for the guys. They've been battling hard and really concerned with their confidence being shook after what we've gone through in the last few weeks. Pac-12 obviously didn't help us, making us go to Oregon in our last week, put us on a three-game road trip. Lost Johnny for the USC game. And then Oregon State got on a roll, and we missed free throws and lost that one. So our confidence was definitely shaken.
“We were trying, as a coaching staff, make sure we pumped them up as much as we could getting ready for tonight. But Michigan State came out playing well. Their offensive execution in the first half was as good as I've seen them. Their shooting, their passing. They pretty much got whatever they wanted against us. We huddled up at halftime as a coaching staff and tried to turn up the heat defensively in the second half and tried to make them uncomfortable as much as we could. The kids responded and I thought our intensity level obviously went way up in the second half defensively. Got a lot of contributions. Obviously, Jaime and Johnny put the ball in the basket for us. But Jaylen Clark, I thought, gave us some big minutes as well. But obviously a great win. And a great game, two storied programs. I've got as much respect for Tom Izzo as anybody in the business. So big win for us.”
on what it tells him about his team the way they came back from 14 down to win in overtime
“Well, you know that's Bruin basketball now. For me, it used to be Bearcat basketball. I just told the team we won the game on offensive rebound. We tied the game on an offensive rebound, got the loose ball, tipped it, got it, got an and-one to tie the game. That's the type of stuff that are hallmarks of winning programs. Tom Izzo's team's been doing those things for a long time. So in our quest to build our culture and our toughness, for me it was really fitting that we won that way and we had to come back. But it just shows you, these games are never over. Anybody can win these games. They're neutral sites. Everybody is in quarantine. The kids playing in this tournament, I mean all these teams are playing out of their minds. And I can promise you it's not the same for the kids.”
on what it meant to see his dad after the game
“It's good to see him. He's getting old. I'm teasing – I talk to him every day. I wake up and as I'm heading down Sepulveda I call him, ask him how the weather is in Cincinnati. I explain to him the sun is coming over the Santa Monica Mountains. I put my sunglasses on. I mess with him every day. I have not seen my dad since our Arizona State win last year at the end of February. COVID hit, he canceled his flight to Vegas. Trying to stay safe, not traveling on airplanes. So talking to somebody every day. It's weird to see him. You've got to remember, this guy, last year – I know he lives in Cincinnati, but he's flying out every month spending a week with me. So it was great. Now I get to see him again.”
on what it means to see his team have confidence to come back and win
“You know, obviously I coach at a place where the best coach ever used to sit in the chair. Coach Wooden said greatness is giving your best effort. He never talked about winning or losing. I was concerned with our effort in the first half. I didn't talk about – I really don't talk about winning or losing a lot with these guys. I try to talk to them about their effort. And trying to build our program and trying to get them to understand there's a difference between effort and winning effort, championship effort. So we talked about our effort. That was really our concern at halftime. You're on this stage against Michigan State, down the street from not far from Lansing. They haven't had to travel. We're coming across the country, all the above. It's not an excuse. There's 40 minutes and you've got to give your best effort. That really was our concern.”
on playing this game in John Wooden’s home gym
“I couldn't find the statue the other night when we got up here to practice. It was so late. Didn't start practice until 9:30. Only allowed down certain hallways. There's people with signs, can't go here, can't go there. I understand it all. But I think we're done playing here, so I've got to try to see that statue before I leave. But maybe Coach's luck was with us.
I have to text his son, text Jim down in Orange County. Hopefully he was watching tonight. Hopefully Coach gave us some luck, give us some made 3s, made free throws, but I think we were due for some luck as well. It's been a rough couple of weeks for us. The ball's not bounced our way at all. But for me it's cool to be the UCLA coach. It's extremely cool for me. But to have this win here, with his jersey up there, now that you talk about it, maybe he was looking down on us.”
on if there was a concern about not being too familiar with the arena
“Very much a concern. Also the proximity to Lansing, to travel, everything. But, like I said earlier, there's a game, there's a clock and a score. 40 minutes and it's all at 0. So try to build my program to where those things don't matter. Excuses are – they may be valid, but it didn't give them any extra points.”
on Jaime Jaquez’s performance
“Well, obviously, first of all, the game plan, I thought we had a big advantage with him. I thought that Hall and Hauser would struggle to guard him. So going in he knew I was coming his way with a lot of stuff. But one thing about Jaime that I knew was important, when I took the job, I knew Jaime had already signed. And I had seen him and made a veiled attempt at recruiting him. He's way too smart. He wasn't going to turn down UCLA. But I know what the competitor that he is. So none of it – Jaime is almost better when we're down. He's got tremendous heart. But I thought he had some favorable matchups and late they put Henry – what we did – Coach Izzo went smaller and put Aaron Henry on him to try to stop him. So Johnny got it going as well. But we were going to have to score some points, guys, because the way they played offensively, to catch them, we were going to have to get the ball in the basket.”
on winning this game
“Whenever you're trying to build a program, right, it builds belief in your locker room. When we play with – we play with championship effort that we can win games. And this is what it's going to take. This is what it's going to take. Our reward is we get to play BYU, which is going to be no small task. They play well. They're up 12 on Gonzaga. I was home watching that game. I thought they might have had them. So that's our reward. But from, obviously from a program standpoint, when you take over a program, there's no tournament last year – we were going to make it and it was taken away from the kids. So I speak for all coaches: It's so nice to be able to have the kids get a chance to do this. But when you're building a program it's obviously a big win for us, a step forward in the right direction. But we've got more work to do, guys.”
on Jaylen Clark’s contribution
“I thought there's no way we win without Jaylen Clark. We have to play some small ball. Mac should be in high school. So he's doing his best. But the toughness and intensity that Jaylen Clark, that's why I signed him. I should have listened to his AAU coach when I got the job. He told me that Jaylen Clark needs to play for you, [that] you guys were made for each other. You've just got to have competitors on your team. With that said, he made a couple really good plays to be able to jump in a game he doesn't ever practice at the 5 spot. He had a couple of nice offensive reads of their defense where he made some really good plays. He scored a bucket. He assisted on another bucket. And then his defense and rebounding is always on point. So he was huge for us.”
sophomore guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr.
on what it says about this team coming back to win in overtime
“I think it says a lot about our team and our resilience that we have. We knew coming out of the first half that’s not the half of basketball that we are used to playing. We knew we had to come out in the second half with a different energy, defensive mindset and try to get steals in transition.”
on what was going through his mind down five with 90 seconds left
“Win the game. It’s a lot of time left on the clock. You can do a lot in those 90 seconds. I wasn’t thinking about losing this game. I didn’t think there was any chance that we couldn’t come back to win. Winning was on my mind the entire time.”
on having an advantage over Michigan State due to playing in more overtime games this season
“I think that was an advantage towards us because that’s a position we’ve been used to playing in. Like you said, we’ve been in a lot of overtime games, and when we get into overtime we know that’s when we have to turn up the heat and really win this game.”
on having a career night on the biggest stage of the NCAA Tournament
“It’s just a big stage. As a kid, everyone dreams about playing in this tournament. This is March Madness. I know it might be corny, but you can feel the madness when you’re in the gym even when we had as many fans as we did. You felt the energy. The energy was there. It was live. We’re playing in John Wooden’s home court. That definitely meant something to us, to come in here and get the win for him. But this is the greatest time of year for a college basketball player.”
if there was a mission for him to get going early
“I don’t think it was a mission for me trying to score the ball. I think it was more of a mission doing whatever I can to help the team win. Tonight, that was scoring. I try to play as best the defense I could tonight. Get deflections, try to get steals, blocked shots, rebounds, everything. So my determination coming into this game was to do whatever it takes to win.”
on the history of John Wooden at this place
“When we practiced here it was pretty late at night. So we kind of just went in and got out. But as UCLA basketball players, we know the history of John Wooden and what he meant to this school and to UCLA. Coming in here was something really special.”
on Coach Cronin
“I think tonight we showed the resiliency that we have. He’s a really tough coach. He’s hard on us, but he brings out the best in us as you saw tonight. We were down 14 in the first half and then we come back and win the game in overtime. I think that game really showed what type of coach he is and how he’s never going to give up on us.”
sophomore guard Jules Bernard
on how good it felt to get the win and snap a four-game losing streak
“It was a big win for us. Obviously, it picked up our spirits. We had a rough few weeks with four losses in a row, but to come out and play a team who has beat three top-five teams, I believe, we knew that they were a good team, despite their record. They’re going to play physical. So it was a great win. You know, it’s definitely some momentum to take into the next game.”
on the team’s mindset headed to overtime
“To be honest, you know, this is our game – that was our mindset. And that was the only way that we were going to win, if we believed we were going to win. We did the small things on defense – you know, getting to loose balls, getting rebounds, making big plays on the offensive end. You know, Cody and J-Rock [Jaylen Clark] came up with two big offensive rebounds. It was just a mindset that we had coming into overtime.”
on the performance of Jaime Jaquez Jr.
“He balled out. He had a great game. He had a mismatch that we knew he could take on, and he got buckets tonight. He was hitting shots. He was doing the small things. He was getting deflections, so I’m super proud of him.”
on getting his first career NCAA Tournament win
“It feels good, you know, first game – first win. But, we knew that we’re not done here. We have a lot to look forward to. And we are coming into the next game trying to be prepared and looking to win another one.”
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