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March 9, 2018

Steve Alford

Aaron Holiday

Thomas Welsh

Las Vegas, Nevada

Arizona - 78, UCLA - 67 (OT)

STEVE ALFORD: Well, I'm really proud of our guys. I thought you had two teams that were really fighting and playing hard. I thought our guys gave tremendous effort. I give their defense a lot of credit in the second half. I thought the second half they stepped up their pressure and what they do defensively. So I applaud them.

You look at the game, one team had six turnovers, the other team had nine turnovers. We make ten threes, they make seven threes. We just couldn't get over the free-throw hump. One team's 3 for 4, and the other team's 13 for 18. We're in a three-two zone most of the night, but it's unfortunate we just couldn't find ways of getting ourselves to the free-throw line.

I tell you, I think we played 25 minutes in the second half and never got to the bonus. So we'll have to look at tape and see what we've got to do to try to correct that moving forward. But the effort that the guys gave I thought was tremendous. I thought we fought the entire night. So I'm very pleased with their effort.

Q. How exhausted -- at the end of the day, how exhausted? Y'all have been playing shorthanded all year. Did we see some of that in the overtime?
STEVE ALFORD: I'm sure, I'm sure. It was 11-0 in the overtime. So I'm sure that comes into play. That's why I think we need some stoppage of play. Aaron just does as much as he possibly can. 45 minutes we get him to the line once, and that was late in the second half. So we've got to figure out ways of getting him to the free-throw line a little bit more, because I think he's a handful.

But Tom's 17 of 17. We had some young guys step up. I thought Kris Wilkes did a lot of good things for us, again, offensively. Alec's hip was bothering him, hip or back was bothering him, so he was limited in what he could do.

So we were probably a little bit run down. But at the same token, they had three guys play 40-plus minutes as well. So that's not an excuse. I thought they stepped things up in the overtime, and we were able to match that.

Q. Did you think Arizona made a more dedicated effort to get the ball to Ayton in the second half?
STEVE ALFORD: Well, I think Sean and his staff are very good at what they do. So I think if you've got DeAndre Ayton, that's a pretty simple solution. He's special. And I thought they did a good job of feeding him. He made just about everything. I thought he was really good and very efficient. You go 13 for 16 in a game and you're pretty efficient in what you're doing.

Q. Following up on that, what's it like to try to defend DeAndre down low?
THOMAS WELSH: He's a great player. He's just a really big guy. Takes up a lot of space and the skill down there as well. So he presents a lot of problems for defense. And I just wanted to give him the best effort I could guarding him. He kind of got away from us tonight. But, I mean, he's a special player.

Q. Aaron, a two-part question for you. How are you feeling right now, and did you notice they were kind of a harassing you, a lot of off ball defenses as well? Did you get a sense they were trying to wear you down tonight?
AARON HOLIDAY: I feel fine. Obviously tired playing a lot of minutes. But I saw another guy either in the paint or in gap every time I drove. So they did a great job on defense getting the ball out of my hands.

Q. With four minutes left in the game, Steve, Aaron drove and there were about five guys around him. It seemed to happen a lot tonight. Do you think because of the way he plays, he doesn't get all the calls he maybe should be getting?
STEVE ALFORD: I'm not at liberty to comment, nor do I want to comment. So I just think he is a load. I think off the ball he knows how to cut. He knows how to draw fouls off the ball. He's really good on the ball of drawing fouls, and for whatever reason we just weren't able to do that. In a 45-minute game, we weren't able to do that.

So, again, we'll have to look at the tape. We had two guys shoot free throws. G.G. shot two and Aaron shot two. It's just the statistics I'm reading. So we've got to figure out, obviously, how to get to the line a little bit more.

Q. Coach, on a positive note, your two five-star recruits, Kris and Jalen Hill, made some big, exciting plays today. Can you talk about what you saw out of them today?
STEVE ALFORD: It's good. It's a good experience for them. Jalen bounced back. He's been out with an ankle sprain, and I thought he gave us good energy. I thought he played with a lot of passion tonight and we needed that out there. And Kris has been consistent all year. I thought he really battled. I thought his play was very good as well.

Q. Everyone talks about shorthanded all year and how proud you are of them tonight. Can you just tell us what this team has done for you, playing like this and everything you've gone through as a coach. I don't know if you've been through something like this as a coach in the Mountain West or whatever, but what this team means to you right now?
STEVE ALFORD: That's what I appreciate most. We've had incredible efforts out of these guys, and they've worked to improve all year long. And they've done everything we've asked them to do. And I think we're better. We're better than what we were two weeks ago. So as we're entering March now, I thought we came off the Mountain road trip where we didn't play particularly well, but we had some good moments in that trip as well. But I thought we went to SC and put together a really good 40 minutes. Played good against Stanford. I thought we gave great effort tonight. We didn't make our shots, and a lot of that had to do with their defense. But you applaud them because I thought they did a good job defensively.

But this team has worked all year long. It's been a joy to coach them. We'll get back to Westwood and strap it up and find out what our fate is on Sunday, and see where we go from there.

Q. Along those lines, how are you feeling about your tournament chances at this point?
STEVE ALFORD: Well, we feel good. We were third in this league. I've said all along, we've been consistent all year. We were consistent in the non-league. We've got good non-league wins. We were able to get 11 league wins and finish third in this league. So we were consistent in the league play, and we got to the semifinals. Beat a very good Stanford team, and then fought, obviously, a top 10 team in Arizona to overtime.

So I think we've done enough to show that we pass the eye test, and I think our body of work proves it.

We weren't able to -- by the schedule, we only got to play Arizona and Arizona State at their place. We didn't get them at our place. So those would have been two opportunities. We had a game cancelled by fire in the non-league. So in the opportunities that we had, I thought our guys did a tremendous job of putting themselves in a good position.

Obviously, you've got Arizona in our league that's won our league championship and we'll find out tomorrow who wins the league tournament championship. But when you go at-larges in our league, we're 2-0 against the second place team, we were 1-1 against the first place team. So I think we've warranted making the tournament, but we're like everybody else, when you don't win the league tournament, you're at the mercy of just seeing if you can get an at large, and we'll have to wait and see on Sunday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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