UCLA (29-4) picked a bad night to have their worst shooting performance of the season. Credit must go to a very tenacious Arizona (29-4) defense. When the Bruins were allotted an open shot, many times they rushed because they knew a Wildcat defender was on his way.
The Bruins shot 40 percent from the field and a dismal 16 percent from beyond the arc. UCLA would have trouble beating a lot teams shooting the rock that icy, let alone Arizona, one of the nation’s best teams.
UCLA’s all-time three-point maker, Bryce Alford was 1-10 from the three-point line, Lonzo Ball 1-6, Aaron Holiday 1-5 and Isaac Hamilton 1-4. It will be difficult for the Bruins to win games when the team goes cold from beyond the arc. In total, the UCLA was 4-25 from the arc.
In contrast to the Bruins, the Cats hit on 50 percent of their shots from both the field and from beyond the three-point arc. From the field, the Cats were 28-56 and were 10-20 from the three.
“You know we didn’t play very well this whole tournament,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We are banged up a little bit with TJ, and I give him a lot of credit. He has done a lot to be able to get back, and has done some things that our team really appreciates.”
“As a team we didn’t shoot the ball well. We didn’t shoot the ball well against USC and we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight. I thought we continued to battle, but we got beat by a very good basketball team.”
Hamilton had a solid tournament leading the Bruins in scoring both games, scoring 20 against the Wildcats. Leaf had 15 and Welsh, who also had a solid tournament, 13.
This game ended with more drama than the game itself. With less than a second left in the contest, and there was no doubt that Arizona had the game in the bag, Wildcat coach, Sean Miller called time out.
Alford explains the incident.
“I guess they [Arizona] thought I was trying to disrespect them at their place when I called a late timeout,” Alford said. “I didn’t mean any disrespect at all; we just had not won there in a while so I didn’t want anything goofy to happen. Apparently he [Arizona Coach Sean Miller] thought I was being disrespectful and that was his way of getting back at us. I didn’t mean any disrespect and that’s what I told him after the game. I was just trying to set my defense, and make sure nothing happened in a hostile environment.”
There are two sides to every story. Wildcat Coach, Sean Miller explained why he called the time out when the game was in hand.
“You know, I love Kadeem Allen, and we didn't end his senior night the right way,” Miller said. “Tonight was about making sure that we paid Kadeem back. And I just wanted him to know how much we love him, how much we appreciate him, how hard he plays.”
“I mean, he had people driving from the state of North Carolina to Arizona for that game, and it didn't work out. He ended up shooting a basketball on the last play. A lot's made of that when you miss that shot, and he was playing with a finger that most people wouldn’t even bother to play. So I wanted him to know how much we loved him.”
“I think we learned from UCLA in that game just making sure your team is poised moving forward when they called their timeout late that we wanted to do the same thing. Make sure our team was poised moving forward.”
Arizona will play Oregon in the tournament championship. Tipoff is approximately 8:00PM PST.
Now the Bruins will wait to see this coming Sunday where they will be seeded in the NCAA.
Alford touches on how well he thinks the Pac 12 Conference will do during March Madness.
“I think we are all very good teams,” Alford said. “We are 29-4 and that’s what Arizona is too. Anytime you can get close to 30 wins in the regular season your body of work is looking pretty good.”
“I think we have three outstanding teams in this league. We will have to look at the matchups and pairings when they come out. The seeding is always a big factor too. Health is a factor too. We have to make sure we get healthy here in the next five days and get back to the pace that we are used to playing.”