Here’s postgame comments from UCLA after its 61-54 win at Washington. Bruins freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad (above) said a trash-talking exchange with Scott Suggs got him fired up.
(Opening Statement) “Great win for our team today, after the disappointment of losing Wednesday on the road, to come in here and win for the first time in nine years, people ask why is it so hard? They’re really good, they’re always really good, Lorenzo does a terrific job. To go through all the adversity we’ve gone through this season, to be able to win it here is really special. To beat a really good team on their home floor is difficult to do, and that was done today. They are a very good team, they’re a team that no one wants to face coming up in this tournament. I was proud of our guys, the way we came out to start that second half, we had three or four shots in a row. Larry Drew’s layup there late in the game was huge. I thought Shabazz was great today. Shabazz is the player of the year in the conference. This win hopefully hammers that home. He was phenomenal. I thought the team did well and everyone contributed. To win it the way we did is very gratifying.”
(On the conference tournament) “We’ve got to go into that conference tournament and try to win it and that’s our goal. We’re the No. 1 seed, we won the regular season, now we have to win the conference tournament. And we know how hard it is going to be. This league is really good, and I think with what Larry Scott has done, the perception of our conference is so much better now, playing on ESPN, so we’re on TV all the time as a conference and that’s been such a huge thing for the conference.”
(You guys close so strong, was there something you were doing different down the stretch? “We told ourselves ‘we didn’t care about offense’. We had to worry about stopping them from scoring. They were at their home court, we just wanted to get stops.”
(It seems like Shabazz capitalizes down the stretch) “He helped us a lot. His second motor kicked in and he started scoring when no one else was scoring so that really helped us.”
(Not only his scoring, but he seemed to make some key plays like some offensive rebound off his own miss, that seemed to get you guys going.) “Yeah he is beast on the offensive glass. That was huge when he went and got his own rebound.”
(How much better does it feel having been scrutinized all year long?) “It feels awesome to get a pac-12 championship. That was our main goal at the beginning of the season. We fought through some adversity during the season and to end it this environment and come into Washington and get the win, which we haven’t done in so long.”
(How big of a difference does it feel today compared to Wednesday? Has that low completely faded away?) “Looking back we would have loved to win that game and gotten ourselves and even higher seed going into the March tournament. To come out and get a pac-12 championship after bouncing back from the game at Washington State we couldn’t’ ask for anything more.”