Obviously, extremely pleased. To be able to come out and get the start that we got. Very pleased with the start of the game, start of the second half which was really crucial, I think. This is a very good basketball team we played, very well‑coached team. Johnny and his staff have done a great job all year, so we knew this was going to be a tough one. So for us to really put together 40 minutes like this. We shot the ball well again, but we defended well. I thought that was a big key. We won the free throw game by 8. This has been a very good rebounding team all year. We've outrebounded by 12, another low turnover game for us. I just thought it was a really good performance on our guys behalf and very proud of their efforts.
Well, obviously one of the better teams in the country. They've proven that the entire year, very physical team. Great offensive rebounding team, so we're going to have to do a very good job on the backboard, and our guys are going to have to screen and cut and move the ball at a very high level, because this is the best defensive team that we'll play all year. I believe‑‑ I don't know how many games we've played, 33; I think they're the best defensive team we've played all year. So we're going into our 34th game, and here they come again. So it's great preparation for us going into the NCAA Tournament, and there's a 40‑minute game left for a championship, and I know our guys are going to fight, and we know we're going to have to play awfully well for 40 minutes because this is a very good team we're playing.
On their shooting:
Shooting ourselves out? No, we've never had a problem getting shots or wanting shots. We play up‑tempo. That's been the way we've played all year long. Our guys are making shots. We've got a lot of guys that can make shots. So I think what's really been a big key is we've gotten good defensive stops. If we've got any chance tomorrow, we've got to defend Arizona well.
On improving since the WSU game:
Everybody wants to talk about it. I think we put the Washington State game before we even got on our airplane behind us. It was one game. The second seed was already wrapped up. That game wasn't going to all of a sudden put us in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. We didn't play well. But in all due respect, Washington State played really well. We didn't like the way we played, but I think a lot of other people dwelled on that game more than our team. Our team forgot about it before we boarded the plane. We made sure of that. As coaches, they didn't watch any tape. They didn't see one second of the Washington State game. It was all about what they did. Their body of work was very special. We lost the last regular season game on the road. To be honest with you, it didn't really hit me like all of a sudden we weren't a very good team. Our team did a lot of good things, to go 23‑8, to go 12‑6. We were two games ahead of everybody below us. Obviously, Arizona winning it. So there were a lot of other teams that struggled more than we did. So we felt very confident about coming into this tournament, and we wanted to forget about that game, move on, have a little fun. It's March. This is the players month. I was a part of this in the '80s. It's about the players. It's about having fun, and these guys are having fun right now.
On Norman Powell:
I'll add to that, Norman was a huge key tonight. Randle was very big and important. When they beat us in Palo alto, we had 26, so hold him to 11 points, well below his average the last five games. Norman had that assignment a lot. Bryce then off the bench. But the job that was done on Randle I thought was a big key for us. For Norman to do that and provide the offense, it was a really good overall game for him.
On playing for the title:
Yeah, we're obviously excited. To be in the first year of our program and being in the championship game and have a chance, an opportunity. The challenge is ahead of us obviously, but we have an opportunity to win a Pac‑12 Championship. Now that's exciting in your first year. We're 25 wins. These guys have done a lot of good things. But as we've talked about, it's March. UCLA, it's all about March. I think these guys understand that. That's why the coaching staff is here. We wanted that challenge. We wanted the opportunities to come to UCLA in March, and we're having fun with it. I think this journey that we're on and we're beginning, we want to make sure we're enjoying it. Our guys should be enjoying it because they're doing a lot of good things.
On prepping from Arizona:
As soon as we get done with the media we can get back to our rooms, get these guys fed, and get them down. That is the most important thing. The guys won't do much tonight. It will be about getting them fluids and food and rest. We only played Arizona once, but we've seen them enough. Our guys have seen them enough. We know them; they know us. You're not going to change anything. We're not putting any secret offense or defense in. We've got to be who we are, they've got to be who they are. The best team that executes their own thing is going to win this thing. So coaches will work through the night. Try to get them prepared and we'll meet them in the morning and try to get them ready but try to make it as normal as possible. You've got both teams playing their third game in three days. Both teams play relatively about the same number off the bench. So fatigue is not an issue. It's just about suiting up at 3:00 tomorrow and trying to play well.
On the UCLA-Arizona rivalry:
No, I mean, games are going to be here awfully quick. We could spend weeks talking about traditions. At UCLA we could spend years talking about traditions. No, you've got two really good basketball teams. This league was really good this year. Very good. You had the team that won it, and the team that finished second. Now they're battling in March for a conference tournament championship. So you've just got two, I think, really good basketball teams that hopefully, like some of these other teams that have just lost, like a Stanford, like an Oregon that we beat last night, I think all these teams can make really good runs and good noise in the NCAA Tournament coming up next week. So you've got one more shot at a championship before the NCAA Tournament comes around.
VIDEO: Alford after Stanford