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March 19, 2015

Steve Alford

Bryce Alford

Norman Powell


UCLA - 60
SMU - 59

COACH ALFORD: Well, very proud of our guys. I've been on both sides of this. I know exactly what the coaching staff at SMU and their players are feeling, and that's not a good feeling because it's -- I thought we had control of the game. They made a terrific run. I'm sure they thought they had control of the game. We were able to win that last two minutes. I've lost a game in the tournament with a guy making his first three throwing it over his shoulder. So I've been on both sides of it, and it doesn't make the pain go away any more. But I think both teams can hold their head up high. They worked extremely hard and had student-athletes out there really fighting. The thing I'm most proud of, we told everybody beforehand, that this team to us symbolized Arizona in our league. They're big. They're physical. They really defend you. They're a great rebounding team, and all that took place again tonight. I almost kind of probably talked us into an Arizona loss because we played pretty well in the tournament against Arizona, and they went on a 15-0 run, and we couldn't recover. Today SMU goes on a 19-0 run. In an NCAA Tournament, a 19-0 run, and our guys found a way to win. That's impressive for a young group to hang in there, learn lessons throughout the season, and find a way to win and execute exactly what the coaches drew up. Throw it towards the rim and hope for a goaltending. That's perfect execution. Just really proud of these guys.

Q. For either of the players, on the goaltending call, what was each of your perspective? Did you actually think it had hit the rim when the call was made?
NORMAN POWELL: I thought it looked like goaltending from where I was standing. Honestly, it was a tough call to make, but I thought it was the right call.

BRYCE ALFORD: Yeah, obviously, I had a pretty good look at it because I shot it. From my angle, I saw Kevon and another player going after it, and I was confused because he went up and grabbed it on its way to the rim. I don't know if it would have gone in or not, but he definitely grabbed it on the way.

Q. Bryce, you've had a great day shooting, tough shot at the end there. When it's in the air, it looks like it's going offline. What is going through your head there?
BRYCE ALFORD: Just a little bit of disappointment, you know. Obviously, it happened quick. We drew up a play, and they defended it really well. I needed to have a better sense of how much time was left. We had a lot of time left. I didn't get the greatest of shots, but the ball bounced our way this time.

Q. Bryce, basketball is a game of runs. Your dad just talked about it. To overcome a 19-0 run -- and I think you guys scored the last eight points of the game, including two of your threes. Emotionally, the ebb and flow of that crazy tournament, can you just talk about how crazy that was to withstand it and then to win it?
BRYCE ALFORD: That's the definition of March Madness for you right there, the last two minutes of this game. I think that just shows how much this team has grown throughout the entire year. If that would have happened to us at the beginning of the year, I think we would have folded, and there's no chance we were going to win that game. We really came together as a team, and we trust each other to make plays. I think that's what happened down the stretch.

Q. Steve, you hate to talk about your children sometimes, but you had some awesome three-point shooting games in your life. For him to hit nine when you absolutely had to have them, just talk about how well he shot the ball. A couple of them were from way downtown.
COACH ALFORD: Well, nobody's been critiqued any more than he has on our basketball team throughout the year, and he's been very consistent. He and Norman have been very, very consistent for us as far as double-figure scoring. He lead us in assists. He runs the team for us. And in a game like this, where it was so physical and, I thought, two teams that really fought defensively, he had to make some shots. He's always being compared, obviously, because I played the game. I was one of those guys that played the game. I've said it over the last two years now, he's better than dad. It was Dakich. Dakich had a good line. Bryce can dance, and I can't. There's truth to that. I didn't have his footwork and didn't have his athletic ability. I only hit the three-point line one year. We had the National Championship at Indiana, and I had it for one year, that's it. But I never made nine in one game. You make nine threes in a basketball game and make it in an NCAA Tournament in a game that's close and a lot of pressure, you're obviously doing some pretty good things. The kid knows how to play. He's proven himself every day, and I'm very proud of him.

Q. Have you had a game that you've either been involved in as a player or a coach that's ended in such a bizarre way?
COACH ALFORD: Like I said at the beginning, when I was at Missouri State then, Southwest Missouri State, we lost in a game to Bradley, Duane Broussard, who's on my staff now, was an assistant coach on the team at Bradley. They were the favored team. We had really played well. We defended the last play. We were up a basket going into the last play, 10 seconds to go. We made a stop, and there's a loose ball shot ricocheted off the rim hard in the player's hand, and it goes to like the slot area, the three-point line. I'll never forget, Rico Hill, who's never made a three-point shot in his life, he grabs it and literally throws it over his shoulder, and it goes in. Those seniors are done. Their season's over to that. So I've been on both sides. I know. I know what that other locker room is like. There's a lot of jubilation in our locker room, and they've earned that. So I'm very proud of them. I also have an awful lot of respect for that other locker room and Coach Brown and his staff. That's an awful way to end things to where they won the league, won the league tournament. They're a great coached team that works hard. We were up ten with ten minutes to go, and it could have gotten away from them, and it didn't. It's hard. I've been on both sides. That's the madness of March. We've talked about that the last 48 hours. As special as March is and as exciting as March is, this tournament can be so much fun and so much life and energy, but it's brutality when it ends, regardless of how it ends. Obviously, ending it this way, that's not a lot of fun at all.

Q. I know people talk about this a lot, but can you describe just how much of an edge a team has coming in as an underdog in this tournament.
COACH ALFORD: One was 11 seed, one was a 6 seed. If we were an underdog, I'm not so sure we knew that or accepted it. And I don't think SMU paid attention to that either. I think they had a chip on their shoulder because this group of guys, minus some, but this group of guys thought they should have been in the tournament last year. So now they scheduled up. They won the league. They won the league tournament. They had a great record. So they had a chip on their shoulder to win this one, and our guys obviously had a chip on their shoulder because we felt we earned this bid, and we wanted to prove ourselves. That's fun. That's exciting. So if we were an underdog, I don't think that had anything to do with the motivation. I think SMU was very motivated. We were very motivated. That was a classic college basketball game, and we were fortunate to come one possession up. Everybody needs to go talk about the goaltending at the end. We had ten seconds to go in that game. The thing I'm going to be really pleased with is I watch tape. To me, that's the hardest thing to defend in basketball, when you've got ten seconds to go, and you've got to get a stop, and we were able to get a stop. That's huge.

Q. What is Bryce's level of confidence? I know that he bounces back from tough games. He never seems like he loses his confidence. Is it something that you see that you used to do when you were playing?
COACH ALFORD: Well, he's just a really good player, and good players do that. I think players that are soft, players that don't get it yet, they harbor those things, whether it's a bad shooting night, a bad game overall, it's a loss. And one thing he's been able to do -- and he's done it at a very young age, whether it's middle school, high school, or now for us at UCLA, whether he's individually had a bad game or the team's had a bad game, he's been able to respond. To me, that's what really good players do. You've got to get on to the next play. You've got to get on to the next game. Tonight he had a big first half. I think he makes a basket maybe in the first three, four minutes to go in the second half, and then he doesn't really look to shoot much, doesn't -- to me, wasn't involved. I've got to keep working with it because it's okay. If you're on, it's okay. You've got to go. So I chewed him pretty good with five, six minutes to go. I got in him pretty good, and he knew he had an Indiana guy on the other side. When it's your own son, you can find different motivation. So he obviously knows that I'm from Indiana. So me being able to say, hey, that Indiana kid is just lighting us up, in Nic Moore. I think he kind of went to another level in the last five minutes because he made a lot of key shots for us.
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