Johnny Juzang goes off for 27 points on less than solid ankle. Jules Bernard adds 16 points. Jaime Jacquez Jr 13 points.
UCLA Posts Wire-to-Wire Win to Reach NCAA Second Round
Juzang, who scored 23 points in Thursday's "First Four" contest, made 10 of 16 shots from the field. He poured in 19 points in the first half.
UCLA (19-9) never trailed against BYU (20-7) on Saturday evening. The Bruins jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first half and entered the locker room at halftime with a 38-27 cushion.
Juzang was one of three UCLA players to score in double figures. Jules Bernard finished with 16 points and five rebounds, while Jaime Jaquez Jr. registered 13 points and eight rebounds.
"It took everything our guys had on the defensive end tonight," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach. "That's where our focus was. We were able to take them off the 3-point line. It wasn't easy. I can't tell you how hard that was for our guys and how proud I am of how hard they played. Played with a lot of pride. I try to remind them here who they play for to get their confidence back. They practice in a gym with 11 banners hanging. So, it was a big win."
The Bruins secured a spot in the second round of the tournament against No. 14-seed Abilene Christian (24-4). The Wildcats knocked off No. 3-seed Texas on Saturday night, 53-52.
In the win over BYU, UCLA's lead never fell to any fewer than seven points in the final 12 minutes. BYU reduced the Bruins' margin to four points early in the second half (43-39, at the 14:21 mark) before UCLA scored back-to-back baskets to secure an eight-point advantage. An 11-4 scoring run by UCLA helped the Bruins to build their lead to 54-43 with under 10:45 to play.
Alex Barcello scored 20 points to lead the Cougars (20-7). Brandon Averette tallied 15 points and Matt Haarms registered a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
UCLA made 28 of 58 shot attempts (48.3 percent) and knocked down 8 of 19 attempts from 3-point range (42.1 percent).
Juzang became the third UCLA player to have scored at least 20 points in each of his first two NCAA Tournament contests, joining Lew Alcindor and Reggie Miller.
The Bruins have secured their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament's second round since March of 2017 (after having defeated Kent State, 97-80, in Sacramento in that season's tournament).
UCLA's matchup on Monday against Abilene Christian will take place at 2:15 p.m. PT (5:15 p.m. ET). The game will be televised on TBS. The radio broadcast will be available in the Los Angeles area on AM 570.
Postgame Quotes – UCLA vs. BYU
UCLA 73, BYU 62
Indianapolis, Ind. (Hinkle Fieldhouse)
March 20, 2021
Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach
“Tremendous effort by our players tonight. It's not easy to defend BYU. It's actually extremely hard. "Not easy" is not the best way to say it. It's extremely hard to defend them. Many, many try. I think they've had over 70 in every game since some point in January. They've put a lot of 80s, 90s, had 100. The way they shoot the ball, pass the ball and space you. [It] took everything our guys had on the defensive end tonight. That's where our focus was. And we were able to take them off the 3-point line. It wasn't easy. I can't tell you how hard that was for our guys and how proud I am of how hard they played. Played with a lot of pride. I try to remind them here who they play for to get their confidence back. They practice in a gym with 11 banners hanging. So, it was a big win.
“Congratulations to BYU on their season. Alex Barcello had a great game. He's obviously a great kid, great player. It's always, guys like him are great for college basketball. But our guys stepped up. Obviously, Johnny had a big game coming off the ankle. But Tyger didn't make a lot of shots but his defense was big. Barcello and Averette are just really, really good guards. And they can cause you a lot of problems. Great win for us.”
on Jaime Jaquez Jr. grabbing away a rebound from Matt Haarms late in the second half
“Look, I will say this. We don't have any seniors. So you've got guys – Johnny sat on the bench at Kentucky last year. Jaime is a sophomore. We've got a lot of young guys. You've got, what, three sophomores in the starting lineup? Kenneth Nwuba gave us big minutes. He's such a good kid. I was so happy to see him be able to give us some minutes tonight, because his defense was much needed. For us to be able to win the first half by 11 without Cody Riley was really the key to the game. When he went out with his second [foul], immediately my mind goes to, I've got to get to halftime while we're still in this game, when Cody gets that second foul so quickly. But I thought just our effort and our toughness was there all night. It had to be because they're really, really hard to play defense against. Really hard.”
on where he believes the mindset of this UCLA team is after two wins
“Well, we had some tough times late in the year but playing good teams, it can either kill you or it makes you better because it's so hard to win. You're finding out that the Pac-12 not being ranked all year was an absolute joke. And some people ought to be ashamed of themselves. Now maybe people can't stay up late, and I don't blame them because I can't either. Where I live, the sun shines all day and it comes up early so I get up early. So maybe people can't stay up for our games. But I've been doing this a long time. Back in 2011, I coached in a league where 11 teams made the NCAA Tournament, and the national champion finished in a tie for ninth, 10th and 11th. I know good teams. Oregon State, Oregon, Colorado, SC, those teams winning is just not a surprise at all to me. It's just not a surprise.
“I know we didn't have great early season stuff. But that's COVID and scheduling was way against us. And the West Coast, our teams, we didn't have the whole summer where the rest of the country had workouts in the summer. We didn't. So I think the Pac-12, the teams we played down the stretch has really prepared us for the NCAA Tournament. I was just concerned with getting the first win because Michigan State at Purdue where they're going to have more fans than us, you know, in a gym they're comfortable in. I thought if we could get by that game we could get some momentum. I don't know who we play in the next game. Everybody is good at this point. But it's really about us now. Our guys are extremely connected. So we've just got to continue with our focus on whatever it takes to win.”
on not double-teaming Matt Haarms in the post and what went into that decision, as well as UCLA’s strategy once BYU started to shadow Johnny Juzang
“Correct. First, your question would be the obvious answer, right? You’ve got to ask me, but I know you know it. We wanted to not give up a bunch of 3s. I thought a team like BYU, the 3-point shot is their fuel. They almost beat Gonzaga, whatever it was, 10 days ago because they came out raining them in. And they also count for one more point than a Haarms bucket on the interior. So that was our philosophy. If they scored a few buckets inside, we were going to live with it. We were just doing everything we could to try to disrupt their offense and take away the 3-point shot.
“With Johnny, when they went into denial, what you do is you use that guy as a screener because his man can't switch off. Then whoever comes off his screen is going to be wide open. And we had some guys at the basket. Obviously, Tyger had a rough night. If he makes open shots, we win 20-plus. But I want to mention David [Singleton]. David gave us some big minutes today. He's a great kid. I'm really happy for him. He's a really, really good kid.
on why he gave an enthusiastic fist pump after David Singleton had made a mid-range shot (which led to a timeout)
“For this team, we are from Southern California. So, at times I have to do everything I can to inject some intensity. Now Coach Palmer would tell you where he's from, Compton, a little bit tougher. So he helps with it.
Our coaching staff, we just know with our guys, again, we don't have any seniors. So we're just trying to make sure that they're dialed up and that they're an aggressive mindset. Then the other thing is just belief and having fun. I mean, look, this has been brutal on these kids. It's been brutal on everybody. Indianapolis is such a great city. I've been here a million times, being from Cincinnati. It would be so nice to go out and get something to eat. I'd like to take a walk. My whole family's here. I can't see them. So we've got to try to have some semblance of fun. And tonight was a very fun game for me as well as the guys.”
on what impressed him the most about Johnny Juzang
“That's what I would say, Coach Lewis and I were messing with him. He's in trouble. He's in trouble because we know what he's capable of defensively. There was a play where Jules and Jaime had the same guy because they run their offense so fast. And Johnny guarded the guy by the rim and the guy in the weak-side corner. He was watching them both. And the passer was trying to figure out who am I going to throw to. And Johnny, he was messing with him, he was locked in. Again, Johnny is young. Last year he should have been a senior in high school. He's improved immensely. Part of it with him is it's my job to teach him how to do that stuff. And it takes time to train stuff. But he obviously had a huge game for us.
on having many talented offensive players and if it can be difficult to get players to share the ball
“No, that's really never an issue with my teams. I think the guys understand we're going to play to win. The open man is the go-to man. But there's times [with] my guys, the more they get to play for me, they know like there's a time where we talk about mismatches and guys we feel like we can attack defensively, meaning we can get certain guys on the other team where we feel we can get them isolated, and that the guys know that it's at that point that's what we work on. We spend a lot of time on individual instruction. That's your time to score, get fouled or create a shot for somebody when you can get, when we go to you in that situation. So yes, a lot of that is by design. We are trying to pick our poison, whether it's – we got Jaime a few post-ups, got him some shots early. He was hot. The guys understand that. They know I'm trying to go to the mismatch. And they know just because we go to you, your job is to score, if you can create a bucket. But if they help, you've got to be a passer. And when you play small you've got to be good on offense. Jaime is a guard and we play four guards. If you're not good on offense, you can't play small because we don't block a lot of shots. We were pesky with our lack of size tonight. And that's how we've got to be defensively.”
on how proud he was of this team to step up in the rebounding department
“We were plus-6 in second-chance points, so that's what really matters. They got a few on us. Caleb Lohner hurt us in the first half. He had four but he had none in the second half. You have to switch so much because they're so hard to defend with their pace-and-space offense, that you've got – first half we got Johnny and different guys trying to block out Caleb Lohner. And then we had our big man really semi trap in pick and rolls, so it's hard for him to get back sometimes to some of their bigger guys, whether it was Harward or Haarms. When you play defense aggressively, it exposes your defensive backboard. As you can see, we're much better the last second half of the Michigan State game and this game when we're aggressive on defense. But it's going to affect you because you get spread out more, so it's harder to hold down the defensive backboard. And somebody asked it earlier, but Jaime's rebound late was big time, big time.
on Abilene Christian having defeated Texas (game went final during the press conference)
“They're showing me the score. Well, I owe Darren Savino lunch because he's scouting Abilene Christian and he told me they were going to win. And I saw their record is tremendous. I don't know what it is. You guys probably know it. So, Darren said that. And then I turned to T.J. Wolf on my staff and he said, ‘Coach, he's right. They force 20 turnovers a game. They're really, really good.’ That was just in passing. Obviously they have a great coach. Somebody forces 20 turnovers a game, that's unbelievable. I mean somebody just told me Texas had 23 turnovers. And they got senior – they got Jones, Ramey. They've got serious guards now, Matt Coleman. And they turn the ball over that many times? That means Abilene Christian is really, really good. That's all I can say.”
UCLA sophomore guard Johnny Juzang
on Jaime Jaquez Jr. corralling a rebound late in the second half from 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms
“I guess the rebound with Jaime, man, we got guys on this team, everybody on this team wants to win. And we wanted to lay it out there every night to get that done. We’ve got some warriors on this team, and we're going to try to keep that going, playing with heart and leaving it out there, because any game could be your last one. So we know that. And we want to win. So just leaving it out there.”
on coming back from the right ankle injury and making a bunch of shots, particularly in the first half
“Yeah, I mean, we've done a great job with the treatment and just taking care of it around the clock. So, you know, grateful to have such a good staff and trainer. So luckily we came out tonight feeling great.”
on what it meant to have this kind of March moment, with fans yelling as you left the court and after a postgame TV interview
“It's a great feeling. This is what we live for. This is the height of college basketball, March Madness and playing for the Bruins, I'm from Los Angeles, playing with a lot of guys I've known and a lot of – everybody, we're all brothers. Putting on this jersey with my brothers and coming out playing for the home team. And able to make everybody on the team proud and everybody in the stands, it's a great feeling to bring home wins for the UCLA Bruins. We have a great team. I just love going out there with my brothers.”
on how much more confident this team is with wins over Michigan State and BYU, after having lost four straight
“It's tough losing consecutive games. But again we've got great coaches and a tough group of guys who everybody really wants to win. So I think the Michigan State was a nice reminder of that and what we're capable of. So definitely great for morale. Definitely great for morale. But a reminder, coming into that game we had some great practices, really, really great practices, and really shaped up to get news the right mindset going into that game and that game was great for the confidence, like Coach said.”
on if he starts to think that the Bruins may have something special going on here
“You know, a win like this, it's great for morale but we know we're not finished. Nobody's satisfied. So we know what we're capable of but nobody's satisfied. We want to keep this going and we don't plan on going home.”
on Johnny, Jules and Jaime pulling through offensively and keeping the pressure on BYU
“Oh man, everybody on this team, especially, I think you could see it now more than ever, really trusts each other. We have guys who can go, guys who can play so it makes it easy for everybody. We knew coming into the second half I was going to be a focal point for BYU's defense. So, just doing whatever I can, whether that's just spacing the floor and keeping my guy so we can play four-on-four and spacing the floor, or whether I'm setting screens to get guys open, due to the lack of help off of me. It's great. It's great having guys you can trust and lean on and they got it done. All credit to them.”
on if the team felt a bit slighted for having to play in the “First Four” of this tournament
“The way that we saw it, it was an extra game to go out and compete. We just want to win. We just saw it as an extra game and to do our thing. So, I would say we had a competitive mindset about it. Michigan State, great program. So just another great opportunity. But we definitely just want to keep this thing rolling.”
on how his performance on Thursday in the second half could have carried over into this game
“I wouldn't say really anything with the individual performance had anything to do with it. So I'm just, I mean, literally I'm just trying to come out and fight and compete and leave my heart on the floor. And that's what everybody in that locker room is trying to do. As a team we're just trying to leave it on the floor. So whatever that takes, whether it's scoring or defense, rebounding, communication, leadership, anything is what we're trying to do. So I wouldn't really say the scoring performance had much to do.”
on if there ever was any doubt that he was going to play, after having sprained his ankle on Thursday
“No, there was no doubt. You know, it's March Madness. So it's do or die. I mean, I knew I was playing. Went down pretty good. But, again, we did some nice stuff. It was icing around the clock and treatment and strengthening and balance and keeping mobility in the ankle, but also keeping the swelling down from the jump and getting that better and better while simultaneously keeping the motion and strength. We were very diligent and we'll continue to do so. It felt great.”
on if there are some things now taking place that had not been there before for this team
“I mean, I don't know, you see behind me, it's March Madness. It's March Madness. So these are the moments as players we live for and I just love to compete. I love to compete.”
on developing trust with teammates and how that has developed
“Well, I think before we came to Indiana, we did a great job of preparation. I think we really came in after some great practices and just really came in with the right mentality and cohesion coming into Indiana. And I think we came together more than ever with those practices. And I think that's where it started. And also just the way this is laid out, it's win or go home. And I think that we've taken that the right way and we have to continue to do so. But we've taken it the right way, realizing that all we've got is each other. All we've got is each other, who is within this program. So we just gotta roll the dice and trust each other, which I think we've done. Everybody likes each other. Everybody on this team, we've got great chemistry. All we've got is each other. So we just go out and do it together.”
on having scored 50 points, between two NCAA Tournament games (second to only Lew Alcindor and Reggie Miller at UCLA in their first two tournament games) and what that means to him
“That's an honor. Those are some legendary names. It's an honor to be mentioned with them, no doubt. And, again, we're not done. We're not finished. So I'm happy I've been able to contribute in that category. But we're not satisfied. So we're going to keep – lock in and keep going and leave it out there as a team.”
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