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Steve Alford: “We proved that if you can run with this team, you can run with anybody.”

Isaiah Briscoe inside the UCLA defense. (Chet White/UK Athletics)

Isaiah Briscoe inside the UCLA defense. (Chet White/UK Athletics)

Steve Alford was beaming with pride after his UCLA Bruins came into Rupp Arena and beat No. 1 Kentucky 97-92 to break UK’s 42-game home win streak.

“The respect I have for Cal and what he does and the team that he produces is phenomenal. For our guys to come in here and do the things that they did, they’re always learning lessons when you’re in November and early December. The games that you get to play are games that you get to learn a lot. We’ll take this back. It’s a huge win for us,” Alford said.

“Gives us a lot of momentum as we go into finals and Michigan next weekend. It’s good to see offense, defense, against one of the best teams in the country, but you probably won’t lose another game in here all year. For us to come in here and get a win, it’s huge for us. I couldn’t be more proud. We had a flow of the game.

“I thought we controlled things in the second half.

We thought it would be a track meet. It was. We made shots, and if we can make shots in this environment against a team like this, it’s very encouraging.

“I thought at the start of the second half we had some key stops to get the lead above 10. Then we really settled in and had poise until about the last two minutes. That’s probably on us as coaches more that it is the guys. We haven’t been in a game like this where we’ve had to burn clock and get the ball in against pressure.  We’ll learn and be better the next time the next time.”

Alford  once played in Rupp Arena when he was at Indiana but he had never coached at Rupp Arena.  His team did beat Kentucky at UCLA last year and being embarrassed by the Cats in Chicago two years ago.

“We need a win like this with starting 8-0 and doing the things that we’ve done to date. I think not so much for any game. I saw a lot of people before the game. I just saw Rex (Chapman). I haven’t been in here in 33 years, so it’s been a while since I’ve been in here. We played well that night and I think lost by five or six points. So, to come back in here, it’s an incredible place to play with a lot of history and tradition,” Alford said.

“I’m happy for our guys because our guys get experience that. I didn’t think there was anything about them today that was a feeling out process. We talk about, ‘Don’t go in and jab around the ring to see if you belong. You’re 8-0. You’re playing well. Trust that you belong.’ That was the key thing that guys did from the tip.

“They make me not think about anything except enjoying coaching them. They’ve been a lot of fun to coach, and we’re looking forward to see what happens down the road. We got a chance to be pretty good.”

3 comments

  1. JGOVER

    UK was also outcoached and underprepared. UCLA’s point guard was better at distributing the ball than Fox and didn’t take unnecessary shots and UK could not match up against Leaf. UK cannot win against outstanding teams like UCLA with four guards and wings and only one big that can rebound and shut down other bigs.

  2. Larry Pup

    UK started off well, but UCLA took charge of the game towards the end of the first half, and UK had no answer, really, the rest of the way. Alford had his team ready. You have to give the Bruins credit. UK must learn from this loss and regroup. It looked like to me UK was beaten badly on the boards, and their lack of defense killed them. UCLA hit a lot of open shots.

  3. TrueBlueJohn

    IMHO, the real difference in this game was the maturity level of the two teams. Other than Ball, most of UCLA’s contributors were upperclassmen, and I think it showed. Hats off to UCLA, they were the better team on the floor this game. Two months from now, I think it will be a different story.

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