I felt the last loss to UC Berkeley was one of those games where it just did not work out and not a "bad loss." The Arizona State loss was a bad loss in every sense of the word. ASU, you wanted it more. Steve Alford put it this way:
We got killed on the boards tonight. You've got to give them a lot of credit for their effort. It has been a long time since we have been hammered on the glass like that and they hammered us."
on whether being outrebounded had to do with effort
"I don't know. I'll have to watch the tape. Obviously, we had some guys not rebound tonight that normally do rebound. So, it was frustrating. That's a tough loss. This and the Cal loss, coming down to the end, and just coming up short. That's hard.
Now UCLA has to win at Arizona to get in the tournament. The problem is Steve Alford seems to have little idea what happen.
on how he expects UCLA's players to bounce back before Saturday
"We'll see. You have to. We will see how we bounce back, but we have to tough-minded. WE have to bounce back and play an outstanding team down in Tucson on Saturday.
on if this is where he can see what his team is made of
"Yeah, we have been. And for whatever reason, we struggled tonight. But, a lot of that had to do with Arizona State. I have to give them a lot of credit. We'll see how we bounce back on Saturday."
I am not sure Arizona State deserves the credit. Jack Wang was the only beat writer to focus on defense and Norman Powell as key themes in the loss.
Norman Powell led the team with 16 points, but didn't score a second-half point until the final 92 seconds. Big man Tony Parker was a non-factor, fouling out with 9:42 left on the game clock; he finished with just two points and one rebound, his worst showing of the year.
But what really sank the Bruins was lackluster rebounding and indifferent defense. Arizona State dominated them on the boards, 39-27, and sank an array of shots at close range. The Sun Devils shot 54.5 percent on 2-point attempts, and scored 36 points in the paint - 14 more than UCLA.
. . .
Then, Powell suddenly woke up, hitting back-to-back shots and cutting the Bruins' deficit to just 66-64. UCLA just couldn't grab a clutch rebound. After forcing ASU into a missed 3-pointer with 23 seconds to go, no one beat out Goodman for a board. Looney - who had 14 points, five rebounds, two blocks and five steals - was forced to pick up his fifth foul with 18.2 seconds left.
UCLA lackluster defense and seemingly forgetting about Powell for much of the second half where two of the reasons for the loss. The major focus of the news story was Tony Parker's awful game.
The game was a reversal of all that had been going right for UCLA (16-11 overall, 8-6 in Pac-12 Conference), which had won five its last six games. Center Tony Parker, who had been a steady presence during the recent surge, was a nonfactor. UCLA was outrebounded by 12, which led to 17 second-chance points for Arizona State.
Regardless, Parker had little effect on the game. He took, and missed, only one shot from the field. He had one assist, one block and two points in 20 minutes.
For Alford, Parker's play was a mystery.
"That's a question for him I guess," Alford said. "Just never really did get in the flow, and that's hard. But he's been awfully good and been working awfully hard."
Uhm, Steve it may help to get in the flow to actually touch the ball some. One shot for a player who has "been awfully good" is not traditionally a recipe for success. Also, it is not a question just for Tony but your job. Tony is a key component on this team and you need him to play well.
Arizona writer Zach Rosenblatt gets the last word:
Parker fouled out with 3:22 remaining. His final stats: two points, one rebound, one turnover in 20 minutes. Looney, a prime NBA prospect, had 14 points and six boards, along with six steals.
"They were just more active than us," Looney said. "Goodman was a beast on the boards, and Jacobsen. Tony (Parker) got in foul trouble and it hurt his rhythm a little bit. They were active, they got a lot of loose balls, the ones we needed to get, and they just had more energy. We tried to fight but they had a lot more energy."
. . . Against a team with more talent and depth than Arizona State (14-12, 6-7), the Bruins might not have kept it quite as close. A team like, say, the No. 7-ranked team UCLA will travel 110 miles south to play on Saturday.