UCLA coach Steve Alford was asked Thursday what is different about his team from December when it won 97-92 in Rupp Arena.
Here’s what he said:
“That’s a good question. You know, I think both of our teams are better. I think when you look at the December game, we had 18 turnovers. I’m sure Cal was probably disappointed with some things that his team did in that game, as well. I just think we’re better. They’ve won 13 straight. I think we’ve won 12 out of 13 or 13 out of 14, if I’m not mistaken. So you’ve got two teams that have really settled into their identity of being up-tempo, fast-paced, very skilled players that are playing the game at a fast pace and making decisions,” Alford said.
“I’ve always said it, it’s one thing to play up-tempo, it’s another thing to play up-tempo and yet under control. We had nine turnovers in the first two rounds in the NCAA Tournament. That’s unheard of playing as fast as we want to play. And that’s going to be a big key in tomorrow’s game, as well.
“I don’t think we’re going to feel very good if we’ve turned it over 18 times like we did in December. So I think we’ve gotten better at taking care of the ball. We’ve gotten better defensively, and I’m sure Cal thinks, and at least on film it looks that way to us, they’ve improved in a lot of areas, as well.
“Very similar, though, in that both teams love transition. I think first game was 25-21 us in transition. That’s a lot of transition points. I think both coaches feel pretty good about their transition offense. They probably feel better about their transition defense than what we did in December.”