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What Jack Murphy said after Arizona’s collapse at UCLA

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Murphy coached much of the second half after Sean Miller was ejected

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 29 Arizona at UCLA

The Arizona Wildcats collapsed late in Saturday’s 69-64 loss to the UCLA Bruins in Los Angeles.

Head coach Sean Miller was ejected midway through the second half, so here is what assistant coach Jack Murphy, who led the Wildcats in the final 12 minutes or so, had to say after the game.

On the game as a whole: “I thought our guys played really well. They competed. We beat them on the glass, that was a big part of what we wanted to do. ... But unfortunately for the second straight game, we didn’t take care of the ball, especially when it mattered most. 13 turnovers, that falls on me, the last 12 and a half minutes, some of the things that we called. But the guys played so hard. I have to get my my hat off to them. Nico Mannion, Max Hazzard, all the guys all the way throughout. Dylan Smith Stone Gettings, Zeke Nnaji, Christian Koloko, Chase Jeter, everybody on the team rallied together when Coach (Miller) had to leave with 12 and a half minutes to go. And we were in a great position to win the ballgame. I think it was tied with a 1:09 left. We were up four with about 2:20 to go, just couldn’t finish the game.”

On why the team keeps collapsing late in games: “Every game is different. Obviously tonight, because of our foul trouble and because we were fouling, they got to the line. So every time something happened, they were shooting two free throws. There wasn’t an opportunity for our defense to get a stop. We held them to 33 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3. But when they went to the line, you have to give them a lot of credit, they made their free throws. And that’s tough to compete with when they’re shooting like they did from the line, especially in the last minute or so because every time you’re trying to be aggressive, you’re down two or three and there’s less than 30 seconds in the game, you have to foul and and they’re going to the free-throw line shooting two.”

On if the calls going UCLA’s way frustrated Arizona’s players: “Yeah, I’m sure it does, but Coach talks about it all the time, we can’t worry about that. We have to control what we can control and UCLA did a good job of not fouling. So we have to do a good job of not fouling and just go out there and play our game. When we worried about ourselves, when we were worried about our execution or rebounding the ball, we were really, really good. We led the game for 34 minutes. I mean, when you’re going on the road, especially in Pauley Pavilion, the way that UCLA is playing right now in the Pac-12, and you lead the game for 34 minutes, you could walk out of this building with your head held high. You just have to finish it off. And I think that’s something with a young team that we have, we’re learning to do, and we’re going to take care of business next week at home. We have to. And then it’s on to Vegas.”

On how close this team is to putting it together: ”Yeah, I think we’re really close. I mean, you look at just the progress we made from Thursday night to tonight. If we played like we did tonight Thursday, we probably walk out of the Galen Center with a win. The guys competed, they showed effort, they listened in terms of our film session, in terms of our preparation for UCLA. I felt in the first half UCLA really struggled to score because we were guarding them so well. And then obviously our scoring came from the extra pass. You saw late Max Hazzard had a great pass to Dylan Smith for a 3-pointer on the wing. Those were the plays we weren’t making on Thursday. When we have everybody going on all cylinders, playing together, making the right read, (we’re hard to stop). Nico Mannion offensively was incredible tonight. And that’s the type of guy that we come to expect in practice and we’ve seen from time to time in games, but that’s the guy that can help us to big things still the rest of the season.”