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March 8, 2018

Steve Alford

Thomas Welsh

Aaron Holiday

Las Vegas, Nevada

UCLA - 88, Stanford - 77

STEVE ALFORD: Just really proud of our team. Super happy for the two guys next to me, because a lot of pressure on these two. They've been tremendous with leadership all year long. Their leadership has been spectacular for us all season long. They had a lot of pressure on them today, because we had about five guys going through this for the first time as far as the Pac-12 Tournament goes, having minutes on the floor. Really only got -- G.G. obviously is the third, but these two are the major-minute guys that we've had in a Pac-12 Tournament, so they really responded. That's what your main guys have got to do, and both those guys responded in a huge way.

Aaron, across the board, in everything that he did today, was spectacular. Couldn't be happier for Tom. A thousand rebounds, a thousand points in your career at UCLA, that's special. So very fortunate and very blessed that I get an opportunity to coach two very special players like these two.

Q. With Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh obviously getting involved, but it seemed like a lot of guys got involved early, set the tone early. Was that the focus in practice coming into this week?
STEVE ALFORD: Well, we've had a good week. We've done a good job of getting rest, and then we've been on the court. The guys have done a lot of good things. We've had a good frame of mind. But, again, with that, there is still some anxieties from a coaching standpoint because we've got a lot of guys going through this for the first time.

I thought they handled it well. I think when you're going through it the first time and you see your veterans play as well and as hard as they did, that helped relax everybody else. Now we've got that one game under our belt. I think some of these new guys will be more accustomed to what this tournament's all about now going into tomorrow's game.

But I thought Prince in the second half was really good. Chris Smith gave us great minutes off the bench. I thought he was spectacular with his minutes. I thought both G.G. and Alex did a great job in the second half. I think they were kind of touch-and-feel in the first half, and the second half they got back to doing what they do well. They both guard well. They're good position defenders. Then they start making some shots. Alex made a big shot, G.G. had a huge putback, so I thought they did some really good things.

Q. How do you feel after playing 40 minutes in a game? You've done it a bunch of times this season, but right now, are you going to go to bed after you get back to the hotel? What's your body feeling like?
AARON HOLIDAY: It's a little tired, obviously, playing that many minutes. But I've been here before, so it's no big deal.

Q. This is going to be the first time all season you've played 40 in back-to-back games. Can you talk about what sort of preparations you're going to take -- back-to-back days I mean.
AARON HOLIDAY: Back-to-back days? Just get rest, really. Do what I can to keep my body right. Ice my knees. Just get rest. That's all I can really do. Sleep well.

Q. You tied a career high with 34 points. What did you see out there against that Stanford defense that enabled you to be that leading scorer?
AARON HOLIDAY: I just tried to see the way they were playing me. Paint was open a lot, so I just tried to get in there and make plays. So if I can get in there, jump stop and find somebody and just shoot, it's going to do well for our team.

Q. Coach, you got Jalen in for ten minutes today. Can you talk about the status on him and what he was telling you?
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, it was hard because he hasn't had a full-blown practice because of the way we've practiced. We haven't had a chance this week. Knowing when you come into a tournament like this that you've got to prepare for three games in three days, that's the mindset.

So we practiced hard on Monday, and he couldn't really do much. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday we really backed off the guys. A lot of it was non-contact. It was a lot of shooting, lot of drill, but not contact. So he really hasn't had the opportunity to be in a contact practice that we needed to get a read on.

But our medical staff and Shane have been terrific. Felt like he was ready. He had no limitations, but he hadn't played. So I think getting these ten minutes under his belt helps us moving forward.

Q. This time of year often teams need veteran leaders to carry them through March. Is that on your mind, is that something consciously?
AARON HOLIDAY: I don't really think of it much now. I've been here, what do we have, like 30-something games. So I've been a leader since the beginning. So it's just second nature now. I just go out there and play and try to lead my team best way I can.

Q. Thomas, you had a thousand rebounds for your career. What's that mean for you being in an UCLA uniform and playing the time that you've played?
THOMAS WELSH: It's special. If you look at the guys that have worn this jersey and gotten a thousand rebounds, there are some pretty incredible names up there. So just playing here is a dream come true. And today having a thousand rebounds is a really special accomplishment and something I take a lot of pride in.

Q. The team you're playing tomorrow, Arizona, is obviously in the middle of an interesting situation. You had your own situation to deal with early in the season. I was curious as a coach, when you're dealing with a lot of outside noise and stuff like that going on, how do you keep your guys locked in on what you have to do when there are obviously going to be some understandable distractions?
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, it's what you focus and concentrate on. It's what we've been able to do since November. That's why I'm so proud of these guys. We were 11 deep and we went from 11 to 8 overnight. Not only 11 to 8 overnight, but you're doing it in China, so you're doing it a long way from home where you're trying to revamp and do things.

These guys never had a -- there was never, never an excuse. Never a time where it was like, oh, woe is us, self-pity. No, it was do what we've got to do to continue to work, continue to improve as a basketball team, and that's what these guys have done.

We've had very few -- I think we've had just a couple stretches where we've lost two games in a row, maybe a stretch of three. But we haven't had more than a ten-day stretch of not playing like really good basketball.

So the consistency that these guys have played with. We had a game cancelled due to fires. There's been a lot that you're dealing with. And we had some injuries. Tom played with a mask for, what, 12 games maybe or more.

So I just appreciate that there was never a time where I went into the locker room or a practice and I saw guys looking like, hey, Coach, can you give us some self-pity here, because I might need to take care of it. It was: How are we going to get better today?

And that starts with the leadership. Both Aaron and Tom have come to work every day to get better, and the young players have seen that. I think our young guys have gotten better. We're seeing that before our eyes. Chris Smith is improving like crazy. So a lot of that credit, most of that credit has to go with these two guys right here.

Q. Aaron and Thomas, can you talk a little bit about your confidence level heading into the Arizona game tomorrow at a neutral site, knowing that you were able to beat them at home a few months ago?
AARON HOLIDAY: Well, me and Tom are both very confident. Obviously we went into Arizona, tough place to play, and we got the W. We know it's not going to be easy, especially after beating them there. So I know they're going to come out hard. We're pretty confident. We just have to go out there and do what we can do pretty much.

Q. Yeah, when stuff happens at the beginning of the year as a senior, did you tell yourself it was kind of on you to figure out how to keep this team steady and show leadership? Was it even more important? Did you understand and realize that at the time?
THOMAS WELSH: Definitely. That is something that you never really see, an event like that where you lose three players off the team before the first game even starts. Being a senior, you have that situation happening, I'll do my best to step up and be a leader. But especially with what happened with that, I just want to take the best leadership role I could by leading by example and making sure we stayed together through all that. And, yeah, I think we've continued to improve and play well.

Q. With Aaron playing 40 minutes, is there ever a point in the game where you consider I'm going to take him out for a minute, or is depth to a point where you can't do that? Also, do you ever maybe don't want to take him out ever?
STEVE ALFORD: We've had some discussions on the bench that's almost gotten comical. Because one of the coaches will say, hey, we've got 30 seconds here before a media timeout. Do you want to give Aaron a blow? And we've done that before. And now those assistants look at me -- if they do say anything, I just give them that look, like: You're kidding me, right? I'm not about to take this guy out. He's so valuable to us. And I say that tongue-in-cheek. But if we can steal 30 seconds to 60 seconds and get him a blow, we will.

But like tonight. He gets his first foul five minutes, six minutes into the game, plays the rest of the half with one foul. I didn't have to take him out.

I think that's a maturing process with him, because he's such a -- you see the statistics offensively, but you don't see the statistics defensively. He's guarding the best player in the back court on every team, every game. That's what I've said for a long -- and they're probably upset with me. For him not to be a Cousy finalist makes zero sense, zero. Statistically he's off the charts, and he does what none of those other did guards do in the country. He guards the best guard on the other team and does a great job night in and night out defensively for us.

So that's the reason he plays 40 minutes. I have incredible trust in him, and he's a warrior. To me, he could play 50 minutes.

Now, obviously, we're getting into a situation where we're getting back-to-back games and that gets a little more difficult. So if we can steal 30, 40 seconds here, we'll do that. But I also don't want to get caught to where I have to call timeout just to get him back in the game. So it's kind of a catch 22. But with Jalen out hurt, it makes it a little bit -- that's been more difficult to do. But hopefully he'll be back now. But I would assume Aaron's going to play a lot of minutes. For us to have success, that needs to happen.

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