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March 14, 2014

Steve Alford

Norman Powell


UCLA – 84
Stanford – 59

THE MODERATOR:  We'll start out with a summary of Coach Alford's assessment and open it to questions.
COACH ALFORD:  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.

Q.  I know the game just ended, but looking ahead to Arizona, can you just talk about meeting them and what they bring to the table?
COACH ALFORD:  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.

Q.  You guys shot the ball extremely well tonight.  Any thought of shooting yourself out of tomorrow's game?
COACH ALFORD:  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.

Q.  Obviously after last week, a tough loss to Washington State.  It's been a totally different team it looks like out there.  Can you talk about how you guys have kind of picked it up and put last weekend behind you?
COACH ALFORD:  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.

Q.  Norman, you seemed to be a little more aggressive tonight than games in the past.  Was that your mentality coming into the game?
NORMAN POWELL:  Yeah, definitely.  I had a big assignment today in guarding Randle.  He's what makes Stanford go.  I just wanted to help my team anyway possible in stopping him and getting on the break.  My team did a great job of finding me and getting to the rim.  I was able to finish and get to the free‑throw line and knock down free throws.  I just wanted to help my team win in any way possible.
COACH ALFORD:  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.

Q.  Coach, new team, new program, but same result.  You're playing a championship game in Las Vegas.  You're kind of used to doing that in tournaments.  Talk about the evolution coming to this team but still being here in Vegas to wrap things up?
COACH ALFORD:  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.

Q.  With a short turnaround, how much scout can you put together for Arizona and how much preparation can you do over the next 14 hours or whatever it is?
COACH ALFORD:  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.

Q.  With the history between Arizona and UCLA and how good they've been in the Pac‑12 and Pac‑10 before that, do you talk about that or does it mean anything special to you?
COACH ALFORD:  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.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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