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What Sean Miller said after Arizona’s fifth straight loss to UCLA

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Arizona v UCLA Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats were overwhelmed in the second half of their road game at UCLA Thursday night, eventually falling to the Bruins 74-60. The loss moves Arizona to 14-8 and 8-8 in Pac-12 play.

Our recap from the game can be found here. Below is what coach Sean Miller had to say about Arizona’s fifth straight loss to UCLA.

Sean Miller post UCLA

Hear what Sean Miller said after Arizona's fifth straight loss to UCLA

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Thursday, February 18, 2021

On why UCLA overwhelmed Arizona in the second half: “We could not stop them. Obviously they shot 73% from the field. They were 19 of 26, four for five from three. We have a tough time matching up with them, we really do. The game doesn’t feel like it because the first half obviously was back and forth and we didn’t play well to start the second half, but for about 24 minutes it was kind of UCLA Arizona even. But their offense just overwhelmed our defense. I wish I had more of an answer. Their personnel, and Jaime Jaquez is really a tough matchup for our team. I thought Jaime’s second half was terrific.”

On what Arizona tried to do to stop UCLA’s momentum: “You play the ball screens, the pick and rolls differently, which we did, and mix in traps. Maybe show them a different look defensively, which is zone, but you have to understand how small our team is with zone. Some of the same problems that you have against man-to-man you have against a zone.”

On Arizona’s unforced errors: “Our turnovers really hurt us. “I know I harp on that quite a bit, but we just had some really poor turnovers. 16 turnovers, coupled with how they performed on offense made the final score what it was. When you’re playing against a team like them, especially their offense and their efficiency and some of the problems we have against them, you got to be really smart, take care of the basketball and we didn’t really have a good night on offense either. And I credit UCLA.”

On how UCLA got open so often: “They’d gone small. They had 6-5 on 6-2, 6-6 on 6-1, 5-10 on 6-3. I thought Kerr Kriisa did a really good job on a couple of defensive possessions against Tyger Campbell, but he still made what you would consider maybe a tough two or a pull up. But a lot of their pull ups were uncontested. It’s the weakness of our team and we can’t change that right now.”

On whether inexperience played a role in the loss: “Sure. It always does. Azuolas (Tubelis) had four but Azuolas was eight for 12 from the floor. He had 18 points and eight rebounds. He had a tough time defensively but so did a lot of other guys. If you look at his statline that Azuolas played, he had two blocks, 18 points and eight rebounds. Four of those were offensive. He was eight for 12 from the floor. But Benn (Mathurin) obviously had a very tough night. Four turnovers, didn’t make a field goal and Kerr had a couple turnovers that really are characteristic of him. It added up to 16. It’s hard to talk about anything else because when a team shoots 73% from the floor in the second half, four for five from three, two for three from the foul line and really I don’t know if they had maybe one turnover. It’s really hard to talk about anything (else), but yes our turnovers did hurt us. In the first half, our defense, that’s why the game was 31-30. They were 13 of 34 from the floor, they were 0 for 10 from the three, and we had done a better job defensively, but second half they wore us down.”

On what Arizona can do to prepare for USC: “They have a different makeup on their team, but they’re right now our conference’s best team. They played yesterday. Playing for a Pac 12 championship, and we have to we have to play great game. If we played a great game tonight, we might not have won, but we would have been right there.”

On Dalen Terry’s offensive struggle: “Dalen’s strengths right now are a lot of other things. Scoring will come, but as you get deeper into conference play and scouting becomes even more relevant and teams are well defined and playing hard, clearly a freshman sometimes has those moments. A number of our freshmen didn’t play well tonight.”

On the challenge of keeping guys motivated when there’s little to play for: “Well that is the challenge. Is it a challenge for me or our staff? Absolutely. Really the last three years in the Pac-12, we’ve played .500 basketball. I think after Deandre Ayton and Allonzo (Trier) and that group of guys left, we were the Pac-12 champions. That following year, we really started over. I think we were 8-10 in the conference and lost in the first round the Pac-12 tournament. A year ago, around this time, we were still playing for the Pac-12 championship, and we clearly were a tournament team. But at the end of the day, we were 10-8. We won the Pac-12 Tournament game we played. You look at where we’re at right now, 8-8 with three to go and it’s kind of where we’ve been. We have to fix that. This is the path that we’re on towards doing that.”